Legendary AAPG and AAPG Foundation giant John Amoruso, who just weeks ago was named this year's recipient of the Foundation's highest honor, died Jan. 29 following a brief illness. He was 87.
Amoruso, a Houston-based geologist who was among the most honored members in AAPG history, had just weeks earlier been named recipient of the L. Austin Weeks Memorial Medal, honored for his exemplary leadership and philanthropic support to the Foundation for over 30 years.
The Weeks Medal is an annual Foundation award that recognizes outstanding leadership for philanthropy and service directed to advance the mission of the Foundation.
Serving the AAPG as well as the Foundation was a career-long passion for Amoruso. He served as AAPG president in 1983-84 and was named an Honorary AAPG member in 1987. He became involved with the Foundation as a Trustee Associate in 1984, then was appointed a Trustee (and one of the original members of the Members of the Corporation) in 1986, serving as secretary and then, starting in 1999, as vice chair until his retirement last June, when he was named Trustee Emeritus.
He also was an award-winning explorationist whose experience in the industry spans more than six decades, including more than 50 years as an independent petroleum geologist.
"If you like your job you will never have to work - and I love what I do," Amoruso often said. "Geology is not only my profession, it is also my hobby."
Amoruso joined AAPG in 1958, recognizing as a young man the value a professional association could bring to his career. Once he joined he was hooked - just as he was when he took his first elective class on geology and the lectures of his professor Robert Nichols inspired him to change his career path from engineering to geology.
Amoruso quickly recognized the tremendous opportunities AAPG afforded by providing accessibility to science and networking with other geologists. When he received AAPG's Michel T. Halbouty Outstanding Leadership award in 2007 he noted that it was a joy to be involved in all levels of professional societies through hands-on participation, emphasizing the friendships developed, along with the networking opportunities.
And participate he has
- He actively participated in AAPG by writing and submitting papers, becoming a two-time winner of the A.I. Leverson Memorial Award in the early 1970s.
- He expanded his knowledge of the science and profession by attending meetings and conventions.
- He added to his credentials by receiving his certification as a Professional Geologist through AAPG's Division of Professional Affairs.
- He shared his knowledge with students and other professionals as a Distinguished Lecturer through the Foundation's Distinguished Lecture program.
He did all that while maintaining his enormous reputation as a successful oilman, winning AAPG's Norman H. Foster Explorer of the Year award in 2010. That success also landed him recognition as one of AAPG's Discovery Thinking speakers, plus a coveted spot on AAPG's celebrated GeoLegends video archive.
His leadership skills, which he credits to his military service in the U.S. Navy, strengthened as he volunteered his time to serve on numerous AAPG committees, often accepting officer positions.
It was while serving as the president of AAPG in 1983-84 that he saw the role and value the Foundation played in supporting the geoscience community and educating public about the industry. He joined the Trustee Associates, the Foundation's major donor group that provides the backbone of financial support to the Foundation, recruiting many of his friends and colleagues to join and give their financial support to programs focused on sharing the science with the next generation of geoscientists.
"I believe that giving to the AAPG Foundation is the best way to help the Association programs," he said, "which benefit our profession and make possible outreach programs that educate and inform students and the public about geology in general and petroleum geology in particular."
In 1986, Amoruso was appointed a trustee on the AAPG Foundation's Board of Trustees, where he served for three decades, helping shape the Foundation as we know it today.
To find out more about Amoruso's career - and to hear him describe it and his award-winning oil discovery - see his video at AAPG's GeoLegends website.