James Edward Hooks was born in Quitman, Georgia on April 21, 1937 to Jennie and James E. Hooks, Sr. The family soon moved to Tallahassee, Florida, and when Jim was only 13 years old his father died. Jim’s early commitment to education was resolute. He attended Florida State University and then in 1959 Jim married his high school sweetheart, Rosann Ferguson, and they moved to College Station, TX. Jim graduated in 1961 from Texas A&M University with his Masters degree in Geology and a minor in Geophysics with a 4.0 GPA.
Jim accepted a position with Gulf Oil Corporation in Houston where he rose quickly within the ranks and held various positions of increasing authority. He and Rosann had two daughters during this time, Allison and Heather. In 1972, he moved to the Gulf Research and Development Company in Harmarville, PA and a year later to the Corporation headquarters staff in Pittsburgh, PA. In 1975, he moved back to Houston as Advisor of Operations.
This was followed in 1977 by a move to Bakersfield, CA and in 1979 to Casper, WY, both assignments as manager of exploration. In 1982, Jim was appointed to Vice President of U.S. Exploration for Gulf Oil Corporation and moved back to Houston.
The Chevron merger was announced in 1984 and Jim was a key participant in the upstream merger team for the next two years. He was devotedly loyal to his company, whether it was called Gulf or Chevron.
After the merger, he was in New Orleans as Vice President and General Manager of the Chevron USA Eastern Exploration Region, returning once more to Houston in 1990 to oversee the Western Exploration Region. In 1992 he became Vice President and General Manager of the Chevron USA Exploration Business Unit. He retired in February, 1998 with 37 years of service. During his career Jim saw many successes which developed from the exploration programs under his watch, among them Chevron’s early efforts in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.
Jim and Rosann had one action-packed travel year together before a leukemia diagnosis came in 1999. Jim approached this challenge with strength, perseverance and his usual focused hard work. During this difficult time his strong faith in God was a major source of comfort to him. Unfortunately, in late 2000 Jim was diagnosed with brain cancer. After fighting one last courageous battle, he passed on with dignity on September 11, 2002 in Houston, Texas.
As the former President of Chevron USA and Jim’s good friend Ray Galvin said, “I believe Jim will be remembered as a straight shooter who would always – always – share with you where he stood, but would never go behind your back. I am pretty sure there were some individuals he disliked and distrusted, but he never told me so. He will be remembered as an honest broker for prospects. He will be remembered as the kind of person you want as a friend.”
Jim Hooks was an energy industry leader of his time and had a lifelong commitment to education. He sought and applied new technology, but never lost his strong belief that oil and gas are found in the minds of people. In a fitting tribute from his friends and family, a named scholarship lives on within the AAPG Foundation Grants-in-aid program designated for students at his two alma maters of Florida State University and Texas A&M University.
This biography is extracted from a Memorial published in the AAPG Bulletin, (January, 2005) Volume 89 No.1, p. 143. 1937-2002.
The James Edward Hooks Memorial Grant is awarded annually through the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation Grants-in-Aid program to a deserving geoscience graduate student who is studying at Florida State University or Texas A&M University. Funding comes from an endowment established through the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation with numerous contributions from his family, friends and many colleagues.