Marlan Downey 1931-2017

Stories like these keep our community vibrant. Share a story today.

Ken Thompson kindly sat down for an interview before the ARCO Alumni happy hour in Anchorage as part of our tribute to Marlan Downey. Click to watch the video interview. Below, Marlan’s colleagues and friends share what made Marlan so special. Please share your own memory of Marlan by clicking to add a comment.

Mary Sculley CropMary Sculley Marlan was my favorite “boss” in my whole life,” shares Mary Sculley. “When Marlan joined ARCO International we were all intrigued by his quiet demeanor and slow conversational style. He would listen, ask questions rarely, and then point out a ‘missed’ connection that would send everyone back to the drawing boards,” recalls Mary, HR, ARCO 1989-1996.

In an attempt to pull all the teams together in the International headquarters office, Marlan started the Chili Cook Off which became a competition between driller, geologists, finance, etc.

Phoebe Wood CropPhoebe Wood Recalls Phoebe Wood who worked with Marlan on the finance side at ARCO, “Marlan Downey possessed a graciousness and humanness that complemented a towering intellect and business acumen.  So many of us (as well as ARCO) benefited from being able to observe and emulate him,” said Phoebe.   

Not a morning person

“Knowing that he was not a morning person endeared him to us, just as knowing that his disagreement with you would come with a smile and a head shake and excessive politeness. His commitment to caring about an individual was on display every year when he hand wrote personal letters to us.  I will miss hearing from him,” -- With deepest sympathy, and enduring admiration , Phoebe Wood  ARCO 1976-2000.

His commitment to caring about an individual was on display every year when he hand wrote personal letters to us. I will miss hearing from him. - Phoebe Wood, ARCO 1976-2000

Marlan’s wife Marea helped get Marlan out the door early every day. She would fix his coffee, hand it to him with his briefcase and coat, raise the garage door, hand him his keys and kiss him goodbye. One day, Marea forgot to raise the garage door and Marlan backed right through it,” said Mary. This was a story retold many times.

Technical Expertise

David Nicklin CropDavid Nicklin

Marlan was my mentor, my confidant, my hero and my friend.  –David Nicklin

Whether talking to someone for a story or at an ARCO Alumni event, the over-riding theme is that people recognize ARCO was second to none when it came to technical expertise. And as Ken Thompson shared, the upside of ARCO being acquired was that this talent dispersed around the globe to support companies large and small.

Talking to former associates, it is evident that Marlan played a huge role developing ARCO’s technical expertise. “It certainly has been my experience that the technical talent at ARCO was pretty unparalleled,” said David Nicklin.

Marlan set out to form a bridge where technical expertise superseded the regional territorial business units. His mission was to strengthen the technical staff.

First Impressions: Marlan’s first appearance on the ARCO scene was at the Management summit in Ojai California around 1990.  David recalls showing up at the meeting with a big chunk of core from a well ARCO had just drilled in Indonesia.  “It was all the excuse Marlan needed to get away from the clamor and go somewhere quiet to see the core and talk geology.  It proved to me that the reputation that preceded him was correct: he was fundamentally a rock guy and always open to discussing the technical fundamentals,” remembers David.

Marlan was fundamentally a rock guy and always open to discussing the technical fundamentals. -David Nicklin, ARCO 1981-1999

Well, kids

Galen Treadgold CropGalen Treadgold

Galen Treadgold found that Marlan was the most approachable senior manager he ever had the good fortune to work for.  “Marlan seemed to always anticipate the next problem with a technical argument that may have taken us weeks to recognize.  When we headed in the wrong direction he'd gently push back with "that all sounds fine as long as we're not constraining solutions to those that obey the laws of physics..."  He was the only one that could call a room full of 40 and 50 year old geoscientists "kids" and we'd feel very comfortable with the classification.  He will be greatly missed by this kid.,” said Galen Treadgold, ARCO 1985 -2000.

Mary Sculley also recalls Marlan sitting in a meeting, listening respectfully, allowing multiple questions and answers and then saying, “well, kid, your team did a good job, but I have only one question.”

Putting your money where your mouth is:  David left Arco at the end of 1999 to form his own company.  Marlan agreed to be an Advisor to the Management Committee and an investor.  David was aware that Marlan had made similar offers to others as well.  “It was the person he was,” said David  “The most important advice he gave me and my colleagues was this: “Kids, if you want to be successful in this business, you have to be committed, you have to put your money where your mouth is, and ALWAYS pay the investors back first!”  This advice has helped structure every deal I have done since and I don’t regret a single cent of my own investments, because Marlan was right there with us, walking the talk,” said David.  

Frank Kryza and Marlan loved to talk about books and writing. “Marlan was an able critic of first drafts and, with hindsight, I cannot think of any subject that he couldn't discuss without teaching me something. And he was a lot more fun than an encyclopedia,” remembers Frank, ARCO 1982-1998.

Marlan was an able critic of first drafts and, with hindsight, I cannot think of any subject that he couldn't discuss without teaching me something. And he was a lot more fun than an encyclopedia. - Frank Kryza, ARCO 1982-1998

“Throughout all the years of knowing Marlan, I can think of no one who, after meeting him, did not feel immediately uplifted.  It was as if suddenly, the rest of your day was brighter and any problems you faced were suddenly smaller and more manageable.  His smile and his warmth were infectious, his intellectual depth reassuring.  He just made the world seem like a whole lot better place.  Knowing him was one of the greatest privileges of my life.” –David Nicklin, ARCO 1981-1999. 

Jamie Robertson CropJamie Robertson

“Marlan was a brilliant blend of technical and exploration talent. He showed me that one could be a hands-on explorationist and a generator of innovative technical advancements at the same time. One did not have to be one or the other in an oil company; one could be both. Marlan also taught the value of prediction over mere technical description in exploration. He emphasized that properly utilized technology should lead to predictable outcomes, not just be intellectually interesting. The warmth and good humor of his interactions with people were legendary. He was a friend and mentor, and I will miss him greatly.” – Jamie Robertson, ARCO 1975-2000.

Read Marlan’s Obituary.

Whether you’re buying or refinancing, Advancial makes securing the right loan an easy and stress-free experience. With a variety of flexible home loan options, you’re sure to find one that fits your needs and budget.

Mortgage Financing Options:

• Fixed Rate for those planning to stay in their home for many years
• Adjustable Rate for those planning to move in three to 10 years
• Jumbo for buying or refinancing a residence over a certain amount

Shopping for a home doesn’t have to be stressful if you’re prepared. Know how much you can comfortably afford before you really start looking. Make Advancial Mortgage your first call.  

ConnexArticleHeader2 1

Advancial is pleased to announce two new products:

Ultimate Checking and the Visa® Rewards Plus credit card.

Ultimate Checking – Why pay for checking? Choose the checking account that pays you!

This account offers premium benefits like free ATMs, dividends and debit card rewards – all without the hidden fees. In addition to these great features, Ultimate Checking includes free checks and unlimited rebates of other banks’ ATM fees.

Visa Rewards Plus – An everyday credit card with premium benefits.

Advancial’s new credit card combines a great low rate, rewards, and the ability to earn bonus points for all purchases, no matter the size.

New cardholders pay 0% interest on all purchases for 12 months. After that, the rate will be 8.9% - 14.9% based on creditworthiness. There’s no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and no fees for cash advances or balance transfers.

What’s even better? Advancial members who use both Ultimate Checking and Visa Rewards Plus can combine their points that are redeemable for cash back, travel, gift cards, and much more. 

Advancial Header Connex Arco New Products 2017

aapgIf you are an AAPG member, the slate of candidates has been announced and includes a former ARCO employee. Visit the website and vote by May 15. 

Former ARCO and Vastar colleagues met in The Woodlands in January and North Dallas in February. We hope you will RSVP for Fratelli’s in Houston and enjoy networking on Wednesday, April 5.

Careers have broadened post ARCO and below are members looking for opportunities and some of the stories of what members are doing. If you are consulting, log on and make sure you have checked the box to share that you are available for consulting opportunities.

dallas2It was a wonderful March evening and we enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine


Kris Carpentier Wise is in her fifteenth year of real estate with Keller Williams. She did not make it to Pappadeaux as she teaches a real estate class on Thursdays in Denton. 

ARCO played a huge part of my professional career because I joined right out of college. It set the bar high as to what a high functioning team felt like and I have yet to duplicate that. Good times.

Kris Carpentier Wise

Meredith Jones took a package from Hunt Oil and is looking.

Paula Wertman shared that she is looking for a full-time Administrative Assistant job in North Dallas. Contact her at

Howard Shearer was in IT at ARCO and when the function was outsourced to IBM with the BP acquisition, he mostly moved to supporting Financial Services.

Bob Anderson was at Crush Bar in The Woodlands and then drove North to Dallas. He used to work in the downtown ARCO office and knows any of the ARCO people who worked in Dallas. He and Gary McKiddy, now with Premier Nationwide Lending, worked together. Then Gary left ARCO, and Bob moved into a position with ARCO International. When Gary retured to Texas, Bob hired Gary back. The two were at the happy hour and planned to golf the next day.


pratt jonesClifton Pratt II and Meredith Jones

J David Clyde accepted a position for one year with ExxonMobil and while they did not believe it, he kept his word and went out on his own after the year. David is President and CEO of Spinnaker Medical Consultants International, LLC. He provides Occupational Medicine advisory services for global oil and gas companies. David has a special interest in planning, organizing and evaluating medical support for companies beginning operations in developing countries.

Tom Dolence is looking for his next opportunity. He has over 25 years of drilling and completion engineering experience in the Gulf of Mexico with 14 of the those years performing drilling and completion turnkeys for ADTI (Applied Drilling Technology, Inc).

John Gillespie was consulting for Chevron in petroleum engineering, well engineering, operations and production and is now consulting with Sierra Energy. He enjoys working remotely and can take calls and log onto his computer in the passenger seat as his wife Barbara drives to their weekend get-away. Life is good!

Tom Maunder is back from his second ‘80s music themed cruise and available for petroleum engineering and well engineering consulting.

Becky Olsen is seeking a geophysicist position in the Houston area. Becky was with SWN (Southwestern Energy) 2010 - 2016, working the Fayetteville and Marcellus Shales.  After ARCO, I went from Seagull (now Devon), to UNOCAL (now Chevron), and to Blackpool (part time consulting, BecTech Geophysical Consulting, LLC) and finally to SWN.

Around the world

While Tony Lawrence has authored numerous technical publications over the years in his career as a petrophysicist, he shares that he has a series of eBooks annotating “his amazing personal life experiences while traveling the world”. “Much like the path of a dragonfly, from one place to the next, this is the story of my life”, says Tony. Follow Tony as he integrates business with pleasure during his career in fulfilling many items on his "Bucket List.” The stories found inside are based on true life events that are often ironic and funny and which, occasionally, border on the "believe it or not" category.

Much like the path of a dragonfly, from one place to the next, this is the story of my life.

Tony Lawrence

While Tony was unable to attend the DFW Happy Hour because he is working in Indonesia, he shared that his second eBook, The Single Dragonfly Book 2 – California Alaska and More Here I Come is currently hot off the Lulu press at the following link:

“There are several interesting stories in Book 2 about ARCO people with whom I have worked over the years in California, Alaska, Plano, Dallas and Houston,” said Tony.

Log on and update your profile, click on Search to search for a specific person, or select the consulting box to see who is consulting.