Peter Warren Gester was born on January 26, 1923 in Berkeley, California, and passed away on April 2, 1991 in Moraga, California. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in geology in 1943. He pursued minors in mineralogy and geophysics.
Upon graduation, he went to work for Standard Oil Company of California (SOCAL), now Chevron Corporation. Both his father, Howell Gester, and his uncle, Clark Gester, had pursued careers in earth science with SOCAL.
He worked briefly in the Sacramento Valley of California, but immediately applied for foreign service and was assigned to SOCAL’s subsidiary in Ecuador where, at the age of 20, he operated a geologic field crew conducting reconnaissance surveys in the remote jungle of that country. He and his native support crew constructed not only geologic maps, but also geographic maps of the area, which was largely unmapped.
He subsequently served in Venezuela and Australia where he served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of West Australia Petroleum Pty. Limited (WAPET), a consortium of Chevron, Texaco, Ampolex, and Shell. He was active in the affairs of the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association (APEA) and was awarded Honorary Life Membership by that organization in 1989.
Interspersed with his foreign service were tours of duty in southern California, Alaska, Bakersfield, California, and New Orleans.
During his tour in southern California, he was involved in the first truly offshore play, and was especially proud of the role he played as part of a team which developed the Western Explorer, launched in 1955, which was the first offshore drilling vessel to utilize the “moonpool” or centerwell concept. Up until that time, drilling in the marine environment had been done from “over-the-side” drilling vessels. The Western Explorer discovered the Summerland offshore oil field, California’s first oil field explored and discovered in the marine environment.
During one of his returns to San Francisco, while in Venezuela, he renewed acquaintances with a young airline stewardess, Betty Bernice Musladin, whom he had known from his time on the Berkeley campus. They were married in 1946 and she returned with him to Venezuela. Peter Gester retired from Chevron in 1986 following just over 43 years of service.
He is survived by his wife and sons Douglas of St. Petersburg, Florida and Kenneth of Bakersfield, California, who is continuing the family tradition as a geologist with Chevron.
The Peter Warren Gester Memorial Grant is awarded annually to a deserving graduate student through the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation Grants-in-Aid program, and is endowed by the AAPG Foundation with generous contributions from his family and friends.