Unexpected Gift Honors Geologist's Legacy

Recently the AAPG Foundation received a generous bequest gift – in excess of $600,000 –from longtime member Frank Adler. It was completely unexpected.

In reviewing his file we noted only that Adler was an AAPG Emeritus Member and an occasional donor to the AAPG Foundation, but nothing in his record suggested his intentions. And we wondered: Who was Frank Adler and what prompted him to leave such a generous gift to the Foundation?

His daughter Annette shared his story through a short obituary that began: Frank Adler of Littleton, Colo., passed away on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017 – two days after celebrating his 96th birthday.

He grew up in the New York City area and dreamed of exploring the west. As a youth he prepared himself for this adventure by joining the Boy Scouts and hitchhiking throughout the state.

His dream became reality when he moved to Golden, Colo., to attend the Colorado School of Mines. This community located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains captured his heart and launched a career that would last a lifetime.

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Frank Adler

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Recently the AAPG Foundation received a generous bequest gift – in excess of $600,000 –from longtime member Frank Adler. It was completely unexpected.

In reviewing his file we noted only that Adler was an AAPG Emeritus Member and an occasional donor to the AAPG Foundation, but nothing in his record suggested his intentions. And we wondered: Who was Frank Adler and what prompted him to leave such a generous gift to the Foundation?

His daughter Annette shared his story through a short obituary that began: Frank Adler of Littleton, Colo., passed away on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017 – two days after celebrating his 96th birthday.

He grew up in the New York City area and dreamed of exploring the west. As a youth he prepared himself for this adventure by joining the Boy Scouts and hitchhiking throughout the state.

His dream became reality when he moved to Golden, Colo., to attend the Colorado School of Mines. This community located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains captured his heart and launched a career that would last a lifetime.

Adler’s Career

After graduating in 1945 with an engineering degree and a brief job with another firm, Adler accepted a position with Phillips Petroleum, where he remained throughout his professional career.

As a young professional Adler saw the value in joining a professional association and so became a member of AAPG in 1945. The Association was a way to network with fellow geoscientists, a reliable way to share the science through collaboration and publications, and a way to preserve the science and history through maps.

His activities with AAPG began with volunteer service in 1960 as a member of the Publications Committee. He went on to serve 14 years as an associate editor (1971-85), a member of the Stratigraphic Correlations Committee (1976-82) and as a delegate for the House of Delegates (1977-78).

A career highlight was being asked to serve as Phillips’ representative for the AAPG’s “Big Red Book” – the RMGA’s Geologic Atlas of the Rocky Mountain Region. Published in 1972, this book was an instant classic with its extensive paleo geographic maps.

The book, which had an editorial staff of 26 and authors from 43 separate companies and institutions, took six years to complete and remains to this day a valuable digital publication resource. Adler was reportedly proud to have been part of this project.

He also proudly contributed to many critically important stratigraphic surveys of North American natural resources, including (1976-82) the Correlation of Stratigraphic Units of North American (CONSUNA).

A Love of Rocks, Among Other Passions

While at the Mines he met Martha White, who was working in the president’s office. They were married and celebrated 49 years together. During this time he continued his exploration of the west, with focus on his beloved Four Corners area.

Before and after his retirement, Adler stayed active and engaged with the Denver community as a fencing instructor for the Mile High Fencing Club in Lakewood, a volunteer guide for Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison, and as a member of the Denver Mining Club and the Colorado School of Mines Alumni Association.

“Dad loved rocks above all else,” his daughter Annette said. “He had walked much of the West at one time or another and knew it very well. He loved to tell stories about his adventures in the mountains to his two grandsons, Rob and Sam.”

After 72 years as an AAPG member Adler’s final act was to leave the unexpected bequest gift to AAPG Foundation – a donation that will serve as a lasting legacy from a man who loved rocks and wanted to give back to the profession that had given him so much.

For that the AAPG Foundation is truly grateful and will use this gift to fulfill the mission and purpose for which it was established.


We also recently reached an exciting milestone for the Deana and Paul Strunk Military Veterans Program: Thanks to the generosity of AAPG members, the Foundation hit $1 million dollars in the MVSP endowment.

This will enable the Foundation to award scholarships to even more U.S. military veterans, providing assistance to ease their financial burdens of returning to school.

To all who donated to the fund, thank you. And to those who feel drawn to this initiative, please help us to keep growing this fund. Your gifts will continue to be important and much appreciated.


Considering leaving a legacy gift through your estate to AAPG Foundation?

Visit AAPG Foundation Legacy Society for details.

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