Two dynamic and dedicated leaders who helped guide the AAPG Foundation during important years of growth and global impact have been chosen to receive its top two awards for 2023.
This year’s honorees – both AAPG Honorary Members and veterans of the AAPG Executive Committee – are:
- M. Ray Thomasson, owner and chairman of Denver-based Thomasson Partner Associates, is this year’s recipient of the L. Austin Weeks Memorial Medal, the Foundation’s highest honor, given in recognition of extraordinary service and philanthropy to advance the Foundation’s mission.
- Larry L. Jones, retired president and CEO at Spartan Petroleum Corp. in Houston, is this year’s recipient of the Chairman’s Award, given in recognition of his extraordinary contributions – monetary and service – to the Foundation.
They will be honored this month in Houston at the upcoming IMAGE ‘23 event.
“These gentlemen not only have been important supporters of the AAPG Foundation’s mission, but for many years they’ve been tireless workers on behalf of geoscientists everywhere,” Foundation Chair Jim McGhay said in announcing their selection for the awards. “They’ve both demonstrated, repeatedly, a generous spirit, important leadership and creative approaches to improving the world of geosciences, for today and the future.”
McGhay noted Thomasson, who became a Trustee Associate in 1995, served as a Foundation trustee from 2011-19 and remains a Member of the Corporation and trustee emeritus, is “a stalwart of the profession, within AAPG and many other organizations … the geoscience world is undoubtedly a better place for his many contributions.”
Jones, who became a Trustee Associate in 2007 and a Member of the Corporation in 2016, served as a Foundation trustee from 2016-22.
“Larry is a longtime, active leader in AAPG and provided deeply valued service as a trustee,” McGhay said. “Larry has always had a keen eye for the mission of the Foundation and has provided wise counsel and crucial input into the efforts that we’ve made.”
Throughout their careers, and especially as members of the Foundation’s board of trustees, Thomasson and Jones passionately proved their commitment to maintaining excellence in geoscience outreach and education – and in advocating geology’s relevance for the future of the industry and the geosciences.
“Despite the challenges of the past few years, the Foundation has been able to provide great support for geoscientists all over the world, largely because of their efforts,” McGhay said. “We congratulate and thank them for their service, leadership and especially their friendship.”
Ray Thomasson: Legendary Contributions
Ray Thomasson, long before becoming a Foundation trustee, had already proved himself as one of the profession’s most effective leaders and successful geoscientists.
Hailed as one of AAPG’s GeoLegends in the centennial celebration – a three-part video interview covering his career is available on the AAPG website – Thomasson has been called “a multitalented explorationist, researcher, leader and visionary.”
He began his career with Shell, where he managed the offshore exploration division and its pioneering use of “bright spot” technology in the early 1970s; later headed strategic planning for Royal Dutch Shell in London and finished with Shell as chief geologist. He became president and CEO for two independent companies before founding Thomasson Partner Associates in 1991.
But even with all of that activity, he found time to be an extraordinarily active AAPG volunteer, serving on dozens of committees and ultimately being elected AAPG president (1999-2000).
“It all goes back to my first introduction to the AAPG in 1956 as a student in the Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin,” Thomasson said, “but I didn’t become truly active until I went to work in Midland, Texas, where I found myself as president of the Southwest Section of AAPG. That threw me into the ‘fray,’ and I have never looked back.
“My love for and commitment to the AAPG simply has grown over the years as I got more and more involved,” he said. “I love how the AAPG helped young geologists find their way and created an atmosphere of camaraderie and support. I moved 12 times in 17 years, and the contacts and friendships that I made through AAPG with each of those moves added enormously to my personal and business life.”
On receiving the Weeks Medal, Thomasson said he “was totally surprised and humbled when I think about the august and marvelous individuals who proceed me in this award.”
Working hard to promote AAPG and the Foundation’s outreach was a natural step for him.
“As president of AAPG I had the opportunity to travel internationally and was very excited and heartened to see how much membership in the AAPG meant to our international community,” he noted. “On one occasion (in Tunisia) I had come with new membership pins, which I put on each new member, who enthusiastically lined up to receive their pins. It was a very wonderful and heart-warming experience.
“I also have been especially proud of our Grants-in Aid program and our military aid program (Deana and Paul Strunk Military Veterans Scholarship Program),” he said, “which has helped many up-and-coming geologists.”
Thomasson also received AAPG’s Distinguished Service Award in 1995, the A.I. Levorsen Award in 1997, the DPA Heritage Award in 2008 and the Michel T. Halbouty Outstanding Leadership Award in 2009.
Larry Jones: A Passion for the Geosciences
Larry L. Jones, who received AAPG honorary membership in 2019, provided decades of service, energy and leadership in a variety of roles for both the Foundation and the Association.
He retired as vice chair of the AAPG Board of Trustees in December 2022. He had served in that capacity since 2019, although his role with the Foundation – as a Trustee, a Member of the Corporation, a Trustee Associate and passionate supporter – spans more than a generation of accomplishments.
A partial list of his leadership roles include:
- A longtime member of the House of Delegates, he served as HoD chair in 2006-07, making him part of the AAPG Executive Committee and a member of numerous committees
- A member of the DPA leadership council
- Named a Member of the Corporation in 2013
- Secretary-Treasurer for the Trustee Associates in 2013-15, then vice chair for the TAs in 2015-16
- Trustees vice chair for 2019-23
- Also an Honorary Member of the House of Delegates, plus recipient of AAPG’s Distinguished Service Award
“Larry’s wisdom and perspective have been extremely valuable to me in my role with the Foundation,” McGhay said when Jones retired.
Jones, in a pre-pandemic video promoting the AAPG Foundation, was celebrated for his passionate love of the geosciences and his support for the Foundation.