Alexander Wanek and Geraldine McKamie met in Louisiana while he was in the U.S. Army and were married in 1943 with World War II raging in Europe and the Pacific. Their marriage lasted 57 years until Mr. Wanek’s death in 2000.
Mr. Wanek was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 7, 1916. He attended the University of Alaska from 1935 to 1938, studying mining geology. Leaving school in the spring of 1938, he prospected in the Illiamna Lake region of Alaska and sustained himself by working as a fisherman with the Bristol Bay fishing fleet.
In December 1940, he was called to active duty in the army with the 106th Cavalry (mechanized). He rose to the rank of Captain and was in the Battle of the Bulge where he was wounded, separating from the military in 1946.
That same year, he enrolled at the New Mexico School of Mines, transferring a year later to the University of New Mexico where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in geology in 1948. His professional career was spent with the United States Geological Survey, working primarily in the southwest, California and Alaska, retiring in 1975 to Washington State.
Geraldine McKamie Wanek was born on October 18, 1921 in Atlanta, Arkansas. She graduated from business college in Alexandria, Louisiana and met Mr. Wanek while she was working there and he was stationed at a nearby army base. Mrs. Wanek died on December 10, 2008 in Sequim, Clallam, WA.
The Alexander and Geraldine Wanek Named Grant is awarded annually to two deserving graduate students through the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation Grants-in-Aid program, and is endowed through a generous bequest from Alexander Wanek to the AAPG Foundation.