Sherman A. Wengerd was born in Millersburg, Ohio in 1915 and received an A.B. from College of Wooster in 1936 and an M.A. from Harvard in 1938. He passed away in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1995.
While a graduate student at Harvard, he courted Florence Mather, daughter of distinguished professor Kirkley Mather. They were married in 1940 and spent the next 55 years traveling to the ends of the earth on a more or less continuous geological field trip, interrupted only by Dr. Wengerd’s service in the U.S. Navy during WW II. It was also in 1940 that he joined Shell Oil as a petroleum geologist in the mid-continent.
Following the war, he rejoined Shell and completed his doctoral dissertation at Harvard in 1947. That same year Dr. Wengerd began what was to be a long career as a professor in the Department of Geology at the University of New Mexico. Albuquerque was a fine location from which to pursue his interests in the geology of the Southwest, especially the San Juan and Paradox basins of the Four Corners region. At UNM he established the petroleum geology program and developed cooperative projects with the petroleum industry.
In addition to teaching, Dr. Wengerd maintained a consulting practice out of his home, often hiring students to work with him giving them both income and practical experience. One study predicted that the Pennsylvanian biohermal reefs exposed in the goosenecks of the San Juan River in southeast Utah would be productive in the subsurface of the Paradox Basin. Several large discoveries, including Aneth, later confirmed his prediction.
Throughout his career as a scientist, he preached the need for the highest standards of professionalism and ethical behavior by geologists. He was a charter member of the American Institute of Professional Geologists, serving as President of the New Mexico Section, 1967-68. Dr. Wengerd was also active in eight local, regional and national geological societies, including two in Mexico.
His many contributions to AAPG, including Editor (1957-59) and President (1971-72) were recognized in 1992 when he received the Association’s highest honor, the Sidney Powers Memorial Award. The citation for the award reads: “Sherman A. Wengerd, dynamic, enthusiastic teacher of geology, trailblazer researcher particularly of the Paradox and San Juan basins region, and practical petroleum explorationist, with exemplary service for AAPG and many other geologic societies, as well as a strong advocate of professionalism and industrial petroleum geology.”