John Schiller Wold
August 31, 1916 – February 19, 2017
John Schiller Wold, a remarkable man and citizen of Casper, Wyoming for 68 years, has died at the age of 100. Mr. Wold had tremendous influence in the life of the state of Wyoming and its people in profound ways. During his life he achieved international recognition for his work in the mineral industry.
John was born in East Orange, New Jersey, on August 31, 1916, the son of Mary Helff Wold and Dr. Peter Irving Wold. Mr. Wold was raised on the campus of Union College in Schenectady, New York, where his father chaired the Physics Department. John earned a B.A. degree in geology from Union College in Schenectady, New York and St. Andrew's University in Scotland, an M.S. in geology from Cornell University, an honorary LLD from the University of Wyoming, and a subsequent Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from Union College.
John's working career began in 1939 when he accepted a geologist position in Oklahoma and Texas. In 1941 he joined the Navy as a consulting physicist. During the war he was a gunnery and later the executive office of a destroyer escort in the Atlantic and Pacific. Following his W.W. II service, John returned to the oilfield as a geologist with Barnsdall Oil Company's gulf coast operations. In 1949 he was transferred to Casper, Wyoming and in 1950, he initiated his own company, Wold Oil Properties. In 1995, the company was acquired by his sons Peter and Jack.
In the 1960's Wold branched out beyond oil and gas into the development of other natural resources. During his career he founded or directed a variety of mineral business ventures. He was involved in coal exploration and assembled more coal properties than any other entity in the country. He founded Wold Nuclear Co. where he played a principal role in the development of the Highland Uranium Mine, the world's largest. He went on to form Wold Trona and Wold Talc companies.
In addition to his business pursuits, John dedicated himself to politics and later in his life to philanthropy. He was the first professional geologist ever to serve in the U.S. Congress. As the “Member from Wyoming”, Congressman Wold served on the House Interior Committee and was the author and sponsor of the “National Mining and Minerals Policy Act of 1970.” John had previously served in the Wyoming State Legislature, was chairman of the House Labor Committee, and was a two-term Wyoming Republican State Chairman. He was a Republican Candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1964 and 1970.
In 1968, Mr. Wold was chosen by the Associated Press and United Press as “Wyoming Man of the Year” and in 1978 was selected as “Wyoming Mineral Man of the Year.” The American Heritage Foundation of the University of Wyoming in 1999 elected John as Wyoming's “Oil/Gas and Mineral Man of the 20th Century”, a singular honor for which the candidates comprised all mineral personnel at every industry level.
He is a past director of First Interstate Bank; K-N Energy; Empire State Oil Company; Midland Energy Company; National Association of Manufacturers; past chairman and CEO of Nuclear Exploration & Development Company; and director of Sierra Madre Foundation for Geological Research sponsored by the Geology Departments of Cornell, Harvard and Yale. He was a director of the Plains Petroleum Company and Coca Mines, Inc., and was the founding Chairman of the Wyoming Natural Gas Pipeline Authority.
As an Eagle Scout, John received the distinguished Eagle Scout Award, the National Eagle Scout Associations highest award. He created a scholarship program at Casper College for Wyoming Eagle Scouts. He also played an important role in the development of Casper's Hogadon Basin Ski area as its founding president. He served as a Sunday School teacher, vestryman and warden at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Casper.
As a trustee of Union College and former President of Casper College Board of Trustees, he and his wife, Jane, endowed a Geology Chair and two Chairs of Religion at Union College, as well as the first fully endowed Centennial Chair of Energy at the University of Wyoming and the Chair of Environmental Balance and Sustainability in World Mineral Development at Cornell University. His concern for science in college academics made possible the Peter I. Wold Science Center at Union College and the Wold Science Hall at Casper College.
John and Jane Wold established a Macular Degeneration Laboratory at Oregon Health and Sciences University's Casey Eye Institute in Portland, Oregon. This gift was made to help fund research that will facilitate finding a cure for macular degeneration, a vision robbing disease from which Mr. Wold was a long time sufferer.
John Wold was a man of the highest character, a citizen of the first rank, a person possessed of uncommon depth, strength and love for his fellow man. He will be deeply missed by so many, but by none more than his large and expanding family. He was predeceased by his wife, Jane Pearson Wold, November 18, 2015, and is survived by his three children, Peter I. Wold and wife Marla of Casper, Priscilla W. Longfield of Portland, Oregon, Jack P. Wold and wife Hildy of Denver; eight grandchildren: Court Wold and his wife Cullen of Denver, Holly Anderson and her husband Erik of Denver, Allison Wold of New York City, Abbie Long and her husband Steve of Seattle, Washington, Matthew Wold and his wife Katie of Denver, Joe Wold and his wife Chelsey of Boston, Massachusetts, Cecily Read and her husband George of Houston, Texas, Claire Longfield of Brooklyn, New York, and eight great-grandchildren.
The family expresses appreciation to the truly wonderful caregivers who helped Mr. Wold in his final years and to whom he was devoted.
A memorial service will be held at St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Monday, March 13, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be sent to the Casper YMCA at 1611 Casper Mountain Road, Casper, WY 82601.