Stephen Whitaker

Profile Updated: December 3, 2017
Residing In: Casper, WY USA
Spouse/Partner: Teri; married Dec 30, 1976
Occupation: Geologist with the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute in Casper, WY
Children: Laura, b. 1979; Daniel, b. 1982; Christopher, b. 1987

Grandchildren: Thomas, b. 1999; Emmalynne, More…b. 2009; Adelae, b. 2011; Serena b. 2012; Tegan b. 2015

After SPHS I attended USC, lettered in Crew (the long boats with 8 oarsmen), and got a BS in geology. College was an absolute blast; full of great adventures, pranks, sports, fun, a bit of sadness, and even a little scholarly education. I wouldn't trade that time for anything.

I then decided for a change of scenery and headed to the University of Colorado, Boulder to get an MS in geology. Being so far from the people I knew, however, got pretty lonely and eventually drove me to marriage. I married a girl I had met at USC and she joined me for life's adventures starting in Colorado. I helped finance my education by working part-time with the United States Geological Survey in Golden, which required much time in the field mapping geology in northern Montana.

After getting out of grad school, I got hired by Texaco and began my career as an oil and gas exploration geologist. Through the years I found I was actually pretty good at finding oil and I left Texaco for some smaller, more aggressive companies. During this time we had two wonderful children, Laura (1979) and Thomas (1982) who made life even more thrilling than it already was.

I had some very successful years in the oil business then, and that, combined with living in Colorado and being able to run around the west camping, hiking, offroading, and enjoying the outdoors, made for a pretty idyllic life. When things are going that well you can usually count on something coming along to screw it all up and it did - - in the form of the collapse in oil prices. Despite the successes I had been experiencing finding new oil fields, the President of the company for which I was working decided to close down the Denver office in 1985 - thus giving me the joyful experience of joining the other few hundred thousand oil and gas professionals who found themselves suddenly unemployed. I managed to have a modicum of success on my own, at least enough to keep some revenue coming into my little family, but the remainder of 1985 was a very tough time.

In January, 1986 I landed a job as an oil and gas geologist in, of all places, Champaign Illinois with the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS). There were over 300 applicants for that one job so I was indeed fortunate to get it. I figured I'd work there for a couple of years and then get back west where I wished to be. God had other plans, though.

Through the ISGS I authored several publications, lectured, helped the public with matters dealing with oil and gas, and generally made a nuisance of myself by constantly challenging the status quo as established by the PhDs who thought they ran the place. During this time we had our third child, Christopher, who was, and is, an immensely fun, talented fellow.

I was getting my belly-full of government bureaucracy by the early 1990s but the economic climate in the oil industry was still pretty dim. Fortunately, a growing number of oil and gas professionals in the Illinois Basin grew to appreciate my input, so much so that in late 1992 I decided to quit the ISGS and form my own oil and gas company, IBEX (Illinois Basin Exploration).

So, yet another chapter of my life began, that of the head of a small oil and gas company. For the next 16 years I employed a few people, generated prospects, authored some articles, lectured at some conferences, drilled some wells, and was appointed by the governor of Illinois to join the Illinois Petroleum Resources Board. I was also lucky enough to own and operate 24 oil wells during this time which provided some funding for sending kids to college and putting meat on the table.

My kids were growing up through all this time and my wife, Teri, and I attended countless school concerts, plays, band performances, soccer matches, and the usual litany of functions that go along with raising kids. All three are uniquely talented, with Christopher rising to be the best high school French Hornist in the state. We frequently went out west on some big vacations, mostly camping, and I tried to infect my entire family with the same love and awe of the outdoors that I had. I still owned the old, 1961 Land Rover, Monst, that I had bought from my folks in 1970 and we used it on several of our western trips.

My daughter got married in 1998 and in 1999 I became a grandfather (how the heck can I be a grandfather at only 45 years old??). Thomas was another blessing and Teri and I helped to raise him since his mom worked and his dad joined the Marines (just prior to 9/11). With his dad deployed in the war in Iraq, we grew to think of Thomas as one of our own children. It was tough giving him back up to his parents a few years later.

By 2008, with oil prices spiking and my kids grown and out of the nest, I was talked into selling my oil properties and joining a small oil company. I did not mind giving up being an officer in a company any longer (LOTS of paperwork and L-O-N-G hours) so I accepted a position as their geological manager.

In 2009 my son Daniel got married and eventually had three daughters of his own. They moved quite a bit chasing teaching jobs, which lead them from Champaign, Illinois to Marion, Alabama to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was not always easy to visit them. Daniel finally landed an interesting job in Denver, Colorado, which is where he was born, so he has had a chance to go back to his roots as it were. Of course things are a wee bit more expensive there than when we lived there; dang Californians have messed up the place. He now has 3 adorable little girls, who will ultimately drive him insane I am sure.

In 2011 Devon Energy made be a very generous offer for me to come work for them in Oklahoma City (not Denver, but at least it's on the proper side of the Mississippi River) so I accepted. Teri and I found a nice house in the semi-country with 3 acres about 25 minutes east of downtown and moved here in December 2011. Once there I experienced dust storms, ice storms, snow storms, wind storms, hail storms, droughts, floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes; the only things missing were volcanoes and tsunamis.

Our daughter, Laura, moved to a town 2 hours north of here so we can visit her family. We just love getting together with her kids; Emmalynne (b. 2009) is the cutest, sweetest little girl I have ever seen and Thomas got straight A's all through high school while also starring in track and being in several school play productions. He got a full scholarship to a small college in western Oklahoma specializing in Pharmacy (For crying out loud! I've got a grandkid in college!!)

I sure hope his experiences after high school are every bit as thrilling as mine were - maybe without some of the pain, but with all of the excitement.

Another oil industry downturn in 2016 caused Devon to lay off almost all of their workers over 60 (not too smart of them) and, not wishing to retire, I decided to take a job with the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute in Casper, Wyoming. Casper is the 2nd largest city in Wyoming, and boasts a population of 55,000! The entire state has few people than in Oklahoma City. I LOVE it! I have deer in my back yard sometimes, have a nice view of the mountains, and within a 5 minute drive from my house I am out in wilderness areas with awesome cliffs of red rock, mountains, pretty rivers, and hills covered with antelope, deer, and even a few buffalo. Life is grand!

School Story:

The theme for Grad Night in 1971 was "Pirates of the Caribbean" and I was told by Glenn Ehlig that, "Everyone is going to be dressed up like a pirate. Do you have your costume yet?" So, like a rube I rushed out and rented a pretty cool pirate costume with sword and a pirate pistol that shot cork balls (try and do that today... by the way, there are several interesting stories about that toy pistol, but that is for another time). When I boarded the train to head to San Diego that evening there were exactly TWO people with pirate costumes - - Glenn and me. You'd think I would have known better. Still, it was a great night and I had a great time!

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Jun 01, 2018 at 3:31 PM
Apr 07, 2018 at 11:59 PM

Happy 65th Birthday, old friend! I hope that you are enjoying "retired" life. Make sure to drop me a line if you're ever wandering up Wyoming way.

Mar 12, 2018 at 7:29 PM

Happy Birthday, Art!! Congratulations on making through yet another year.

Dec 12, 2017 at 4:33 AM
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Nov 14, 2017 at 12:31 AM

Posted on: Nov 13, 2017 at 11:08 PM

Happy Birthday, Sandy! It's been a long time since our joint speech at our 6th grad graduation at Marengo. It has not been quite that long since high school days. I hope that you have a great day and a ton of great days to come.

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Oct 12, 2017 at 4:21 PM
Stephen Whitaker has left an In Memory comment for his Profile.
Oct 01, 2017 at 12:33 PM

I am so very sorry to hear about Becky's passing.  In Hich School she was fun, kind, and it was easy to carry on conversations with her.  As with most of my high school friends, time and distance have meant that I have lost contact but I will always remember those people who made growing up in South Pasadena special.  Becky was one of those people.  May God bless her and her entire family.  I know that she is in a better place now and can add joy to a whole lot of other souls. 

Sep 14, 2017 at 9:36 AM
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Aug 22, 2017 at 11:16 AM
Aug 17, 2017 at 9:27 AM
Aug 10, 2017 at 11:16 PM

Happy Birthday to my old chess opponent in study hall at South Pasadena Jr High. I hope you are doing amazingly well. Perhaps we will see each other at the 50th (!!) SPHS reunion in 4 years. God Bless.

Stephen Whitaker has left an In Memory comment for his Profile.
Mar 21, 2017 at 12:33 PM

Bill seemed indestructible and it is hard to believe that he has left us.  God bless him and his entire family!


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Mar 13, 2017 at 1:56 PM
Dec 12, 2016 at 4:33 AM
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Nov 13, 2016 at 2:06 PM
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Apr 22, 2016 at 6:07 PM
grandkids: Emmalynne & Thomas
Dec 12, 2015 at 4:33 AM
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Mar 07, 2015 at 12:13 PM

Posted on: Mar 01, 2015 at 4:36 PM

Dec 12, 2014 at 4:33 AM
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Posted: Apr 22, 2016 at 6:08 PM
grandkids: Emmalynne & Thomas