Horst and Jessie von Bandat were a most interesting couple. She was born in 1914 in Biquio, Philippine Islands. Her mother was Japanese and owned a cigar factory and her father was an officer in the United States Army, giving her U.S. citizenship. She and her sister were sent by their mother to a Jesuit boarding school in China where they became fluent in Japanese, English and French.
It is unclear how she came to be in Budapest, Hungary at the beginning of World War II to meet and marry Horst von Bandat in 1941.
He was born in Budapest in 1895 and graduated in geology in 1918 from the Geological Institute of the Peter Pazmany (now Lorand Eotvos) University there.
His doctoral thesis in geology was completed in 1921 and he stayed on at the Institute as a professor and consultant until 1929, when he left the University and joined Royal Dutch Shell, working in south Sumatra, Germany, west Celebes, Cuba, and Dutch New Guinea.
The war brought on complications and he left the company, returning to Hungary in 1940 where he worked for the Royal Hungarian Geological Survey until 1946. It was during this time that he and Jessie met and married. At the urging of Horst’s mother whose family estate had been confiscated by the communist government, he and Jessie emigrated to the U.S. in 1947. Jessie’s long dormant U.S. citizenship smoothed the way. He became a citizen in 1949.
During his work for Shell and the Hungarian Survey, he pioneered in the use of a new tool – aerial photography – in exploration, especially in inaccessible areas such as jungles, and had gained a worldwide reputation. He was quickly hired by Gulf Oil where he continued his interpretation of aerial photographs around the world, retiring from Gulf in 1956. He published a handbook, Aerogeology, in 1962 with examples covering the complete spectrum of geologic, climatic, petrographic, and tectonic conditions represented in different parts of the globe.
Horst von Bandat died in 1982. Hollis Hedberg, for whom he had worked at Gulf, observed that “Those of us following in his pioneering tracks shall never forget him.”
Jessie von Bandat died in 1999. During the 16 years she lived after his death, she established several memorials to her “beloved husband” (her words), including this grant, which was provided for in her Will.