The United States geothermal industry has lost another of its founders.
Robert L. “Bob” Wright, age 90, passed away due to cancer on February 22, 2018. Bob was a classical “old time” landman who could charm almost any landowner into signing a fair agreement. He had an amazing ability to use the English language in an unsparingly witty and colorful manner. A meeting, a meal, or a phone call with Bob was always punctuated with raucous laughter.
Bob graduated from Spencer Iowa High School in 1945 and served in the U. S. Navy during WWII in the Pacific and Atlantic. He graduated from University of Iowa in 1951 and was immediately hired by the Denver exploration office of Phillips Petroleum as a land man. He worked for Phillips Petroleum for 35 years in the western states in the oil and gas and mining industries before entering the geothermal industry in the early 1970s. His signature geothermal accomplishment with Phillips was the negotiation of the geothermal lease with the Southern Pacific Railroad, by far the largest private landholder in Nevada at the time. This lease agreement led to the discovery of the Desert Peak and Rye Patch geothermal fields. Bob also negotiated the leases in Phillips other discoveries at the Steamboat, Soda Lake, and Roosevelt fields. Phillips’ lease positions were remarkably free of later litigation, in large part due to Bob’s integrity.
Bob served as Chairman of the Western Oil & Gas Association Geothermal Committee; on the Board of Directors of the Geothermal Resource Council; President of the Intermountain Oil Scouts Association; member of the American Association of Professional Landmen; and, as a long time member of Willow Creek Country Club, Salt Lake City, where he enjoyed swimming and playing golf with family and friends.
After retirement from Phillips, Bob was a busy consultant for three more decades to many oil and gas, mining, and geothermal companies and he maintained his own portfolio of oil and gas and geothermal leases.
Bob is survived by his wife Katherine Reid Wright of 60 years, who was the love of his life and daughter Barbara Ann Wright. He was always proud of his daughter’s accomplishments.
Bob was a kind man. His humor, kindness and generosity will be greatly missed by his family and friends.
225 West 3rd Street • Spencer, IA 51301 • 712-262-3640 • Fax 712-262-1618