William Crain has been an AAPG member since 1966, and a Trustee Associate since 1993. He became Chevron’s vice president and director of exploration and production in 1988 after an illustrious, storied career.
Born in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1929, he began his geological studies at the University of Minnesota (where he has now been inducted into the Academy of Science and Engineering.) A geological course of study was not his original intent. In 1947, Crain worked as the crew chief for the Thunderbirds, an aerobatic flying team who demonstrated the capabilities of U.S. air force fighter jets. As their mechanic, Crain toured Europe with the flying aces, and was set to attend flight school after graduating with a business and economics degree. As fate would have it, Crain needed one final science credit before graduating, and chose to take a course in geology, which completely re-oriented his career path. Geology, while far removed from the world of high-velocity flight, still appealed to the adventurous outdoorsman spirit in Crain.
After earning a master’s degree in geology and metallurgical engineering, Crain began his career with Chevron. Starting this career in New Orleans in 1957, Crain would work at a number of other locations- among them Lafayette, Anchorage and San Francisco. His discoveries have included the Point Arguello field in California in 1981, whose crestal wells eventually came to yield a production capability 6000 barrels of oil per day (Crain’s reportage on these findings has been published in the AAPG Bulletin and elsewhere.)
Crain has been active in geological education as well: his assistance with implementing secondary school Earth science programs earned him the University of San Francisco Medallion Awards, and the 2002 William B. Heroy, Jr. Award for Distinguished Service from the American Geological Institute. Together with the late Robert Heller, his University of Minnesota mentor, Crain developed a 9-unit middle school program entitled Investigating Earth Systems with funding from the Chevron. William Crain currently resides in Danville, California with his wife, Jean. They have seven children and 12 grandchildren.
The William E. & Jean Crain Named Grant is awarded annually to a deserving student attending the University of Minnesota, Duluth, through the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Grants-in-Aid Program, and is endowed by the AAPG Foundation with generous contributions from William & Jean Crain.