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Famed Geologist Dick Jones Dies at 67
For some people, the simplest measure of a meaningful life is their work. This is true for Richard W. Jones, retired coal geologist and editor of the Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS), who died at the age of 67.
Dick’s contributions to the geologic knowledge of Wyoming represent his passion for his work. He was thorough in his research, always striving for excellence in his technical writing, and worked countless hours on his geologic maps to make sure they were perfect prior to production.
“Dick tended to be a perfectionist when it came to editing,” says Alan VerPloeg, head of Energy and Minerals at the WSGS. “I worked with Dick throughout his career at the Survey, and I was always impressed by his knowledge of Wyoming geology and with his coal research,” VerPloeg says. “Dick edited many of my reports and maps, and I always knew they were in great shape with no errors when they went to the printer.”
Leaving his mark, Dick’s contributions to geology are represented in the legacy of his work at the WSGS. He joined the agency in 1982, originally as coal geologist. Coincidentally, Dick’s interest in coal had started in Laramie 10 years earlier. While he was a UW student he worked part-time for WSGS on Wyoming geology and coal deposits. As WSGS coal geologist, he was responsible for conducting geologic investigations on the state’s coal resources as well as mapping the geology and tracking coal production. Former colleague, Nick Jones remembers Dick for his passion for Wyoming geology and his enthusiasm to share his knowledge and experience with others.
“It was a pleasure to work with and learn from Dick,” says Jones, also a former coal geologist of the WSGS, who now works for UW’s Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute. “He had a unique ability to engage and encourage the people he knew and worked with. He truly was an incredible mentor for many aspiring geologists,” says Jones.
In 1992, Dick became editor and head of WSGS publications. After years of having his work, as a geologist, “hacked to pieces by editors,” he said, he enjoyed the challenge of working from the “editor’s point of view.” Dick said the biggest challenge for an editor is editing highly technical subjects and writing them so the non-geologist can understand them.
During his career, Dick authored more than 140 geology papers, articles, reports, and maps. He also gave numerous presentations, lectures, and workshops on Wyoming coal and geology.
Dick graduated from Northwest College with a degree in pre-engineering and from the University of Wyoming with a degree in geology in 1972. Prior to the WSGS, he worked for the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
VerPloeg says, “I valued Dick as a friend and colleague, and he was a great asset to the Survey.”
Dick is survived by his sisters Kathleen Jones and Beverly Thorn.
Laramie Boomerang, Obituary for Richard W. Jones, Jan. 28, 2015
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