Gary R. Wooley
Hall of Distinction Class of 2009-2010
Gary Richard Wooley was born October 21, 1946 in New Orleans, Louisiana to parents Althea Herman Wooley and Harold Aloysius Wooley, both of New Orleans. Gary has one brother Wayne H. Wooley, who still lives in New Orleans with his wife Becky, and who has had a long career with Boh Bros. Construction Company.
Gary attended Lakeview Elementary and Hynes Elementary, then Beauregard Jr. High School. In 1961 Gary entered Ben Franklin High School, a public school that celebrated academic achievement. Gary’s family moved to Jefferson Parish, and in 1964 he graduated East Jefferson High School in Metairie which was one of the largest high schools in the state. His high school physics teacher urged Gary to study mechanical engineering. He had no idea what an engineer did, and neither did anyone in his family.
There were no Tigers in the family when Gary decided to attend LSU, and some friends and family questioned whether LSU was too large and too difficult, particularly engineering. After expending limited effort in high school, at LSU Gary began to develop a work ethic that allowed him to succeed in early challenges like physics and calculus.
In 1967 Gary married his high school sweetheart Lynn, and they had their first daughter Tanya in 1968. A few months later Gary received a BSME from LSU in January 1969. Gary’s life was changing rapidly. As an undergraduate Gary worked summers in the petroleum industry in New Orleans, once for Shell and twice for Chevron. In the fall of 1968 Gary received job offers from major oil companies and others, and considered graduate school and law school. For the Spring 1969 semester Gary accepted a research assistantship and enrolled as a graduate student in the Engineering Mechanics Department, then accepted a permanent position with Exxon’s offshore division in New Orleans.
While he was working for Exxon in New Orleans, LSU offered Gary an NSF Traineeship and teaching assistantship, which he accepted and returned as a graduate student in Engineering Mechanics in the Fall semester 1969. Gary taught Statics and became a better student and wrote a Master’s thesis in the spring and published the results. In March 1970 he and Lynn had a second daughter Tamara, and in May 1970 Gary received an MS degree in Engineering Science following a department name change. There were job interviews and offers from the petroleum industry, including one at Chevron Oilfield Research in La Habra, California that was appealing.
However, the NSF Traineeship stipend was increased for Tamara and was approved for a second year and Gary was asked to continue teaching. Gary began classes for a Ph.D., taught Dynamics and Strength of Materials and substituted in numerous other courses. His Dad figured Gary would never leave LSU.
Over the next two years Gary taught undergraduates, took graduate courses spread out over three departments, conducted research on a dissertation, and in Dec 1972 finished with a Ph.D. in Engineering Science with minors in Applied Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering. Gary was a member of the honor societies Pi Tau Sigma, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Xi.
There were job offers for faculty positions, post doctoral fellowships, and even consideration was given to a two year M.D. degree program for Ph.D.’s. But the petroleum industry was booming and the offers were too good to pass up, and his family had made financial sacrifices long enough, so Gary accepted a position with Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) as a senior research engineer at its Production Research Center in Plano, Texas.
The work at ARCO was challenging. The PRC served as engineering support for all of the operating districts around the world. One example was researching procedures for developing the Prudhoe Bay field on the north slope of Alaska. It was an exciting time, Prudhoe Bay was a giant oil field, there was urgency to begin the large production revenue stream to pay for the trans Alaska pipeline and all the exploration expenses. Much of the work was published and ARCO proposals were adopted as field rules by the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. The discovery well was drilled in 1968 and commercial production through the Alyeska Pipeline began June 20, 1977. Gary conducted reservoir and wellbore simulation studies, laboratory and field testing, taught seminars, developed software, was trained in professional short courses, and served on petroleum industry committees. Gary applied many of the fundamentals learned at LSU, and he expanded his expertise in petroleum engineering that began with Shell in 1966.
In 1973 Gary and Lynn purchased their first home in Plano, Texas, and in 1976 they had a son Todd. In 1978 ARCO offered Gary two very attractive promotions, one in the Dallas staff office and another in the Houston district office. While considering these offers Gary had discussions with a colleague at Exxon about starting a research and engineering consulting firm in Houston.
A proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy for one year of work was approved in 1978 and provided the stepping stone to support two employees at Enertech Engineering and Research Company. Gary’s decision to decline promotion offers from ARCO and leave the company was considered a significant risk by colleagues, family and friends.
During the first year Enertech’s client base was built and Gary developed a software product that became a commercial standard for the petroleum industry. The firm grew and Gary conducted numerous joint industry projects involving from 3 to 21 companies. Gary became a member of several standardization committees for the American Petroleum Institute and conducted research projects for the API to revise API standards. Enertech was eventually purchased by Halliburton.
Gary left Enertech in 1986 to form Wooley & Associates, Inc. offering engineering consulting to the petroleum industry. His client base grew to include every major operating company, service contractor and supplier in the petroleum industry and most of the smaller companies. For example, he was asked to serve as an independent representative of one of the largest oil companies to prepare a major written proposal on drilling methods and present and defend the proposal to state regulators. An international petroleum operator asked Gary to manage a team of experts from around the world in geophysics, geology, fracture mechanics, drilling and other topics to prepare a response to the U. S. Department of Justice in a high stakes matter. He has investigated numerous high value well blowouts, including a North Louisiana blowout that OSHA called the worst ever onshore petroleum accident in the history of the U.S. These three examples cannot depict the breadth and depth of decades of service to the petroleum industry.
In addition to technical consulting, Gary has often been called on to assist petroleum companies with business management decisions. A director of one oil company called from New York to ask Gary to help the board evaluate one of the company’s officers. Another client, the largest onshore driller in the U. S. at the time, asked Gary to evaluate 64 exploration prospects across the country which it had drilled or planned to drill, including financial analyses. Also, Gary has been retained as an expert witness for high stakes patent infringement disputes and litigation involving equipment failures and other expensive oilfield problems.
Simultaneous with his engineering and business consulting activities, Gary was involved in many petroleum industry business ventures that included identifying and developing drilling prospects, obtaining leases, licensing and reprocessing seismic data, and exploring for and producing oil and gas in Texas and Louisiana. After evaluating prospects, Gary helped finance a startup Russian oil company that acquired a significant lease in the Tomsk region of Russia. The company has since begun development of the valuable lease and has obtained a second lease in the same region.
Also, there have been many business ventures outside the petroleum industry. Gary provided financing and served on the board of directors of a nanotechnology company. Gary got into the banking business by purchasing shares of a new bank in Houston and has been asked to serve on its board of directors. Gary has managed asset portfolios for his family, non-profits and various individuals. He proposed a program to teach basic money management and financial decision making to youth, adults and seniors.
Gary has been asked to serve in numerous civic, religious and educational capacities. Gary has contributed to and been active in political campaigns, but has declined offers of support to run for political office. He has served on and been a director of various civic organizations. Recently he served as President of the Rivercrest Civic Association from 2005-2009 which involved a difficult dispute with an adjacent neighborhood and a lawsuit against the City of Houston.
Lynn, Gary and their three children have been members of Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston since 1978. Its current senior minister is a former senior minister at Broadmoor United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. Gary has served in nearly every office in the church including a member of the Executive Committee and Church Council, Chair of the Ministry Team, Chair of the Board of Stewards, Lay Leader, Director of the Caring Forever Foundation, Chair of Staff-Parish Relations, Executive Director of the 2006 Capital Campaign and currently serving on the Bishop’s Committee on Episcopacy for the Texas Conference.
Gary has been involved with various school organizations in Houston and has been active at LSU. He is a member of the Mechanical Engineering Industrial Advisory Board and has chaired and hosted LSU Mechanical Engineering groups in Houston. Gary has served on the College of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council for a number of years and currently serves as Chairman.
For the benefit of the Petroleum Engineering Department Gary donated high value commercial engineering software for the petroleum engineering students to analyze wellbore temperatures.
For the benefit of the Mechanical Engineering Department Gary has sponsored two Wooley Professorships in Engineering Mechanics, one to supplement faculty and one for graduate students, and he is currently funding the Dale R. Carver Professorship in Engineering Science.
For the benefit of the entire College of Engineering, in 2005 Gary issued the $1,000,000 Wooley Challenge to fund 10 professorships at $100,000 each for graduate student stipend supplements. Gary funded the first professorship, and the Challenge was completed by the tenth professorship sponsored by the Dean’s Advisory Council, which was also the first financial commitment by the Dean’s Advisory Council.
Gary has been a registered professional engineer in Texas since 1977. For decades Gary has been a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Society of Petroleum Engineers, and ASM International, and he has been an invited speaker and served on and chaired various technical and program committees. Gary has published numerous peer reviewed articles and other articles, and has been interviewed for news stories. Gary has served as a technical paper reviewer for the ASME Applied Mechanics Reviews and the SPE Journal of Petroleum Technology. Also Gary has served on various technical committees of the American Petroleum Institute. He
has been listed in several volumes of Who’s Who.
The most important roles Gary has served are son, brother, cousin, husband, father and grandfather. Gary and Lynn raised Tanya, Tamara and Todd in Houston since 1978. Tanya is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and St. Thomas University in Houston and has a daughter Reagan Elizabeth Hayes. Tamara graduated from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas and married Joe Nesser from New Orleans. They have two boys Joseph and James Nesser. Todd attended LSU and has been involved in the financial industry most recently with New York Life. All three live within a few blocks of each other and are only minutes from Lynn and Gary’s home in Houston.