Priority Editorial Staff
Editor:
- Lynette Lobban
Assistant Editor:
- Anne Barajas Harp
Contributors:
- OU Development
Publisher:
The University of Oklahoma
Foundation Inc.
Guy L. Patton, President
 
Mershon thanks OU with $3.3 million gift to energy students
Print This Story   Email This Story






 

Paul Mershon, a noted petroleum ge­ologist whose love of adventure, education and world travel made him a hero among his extended family, has left a $3.3 mil­lion legacy to students who follow in his footsteps at the University of Okla­homa.

Mershon established an estate gift at the OU Foundation that will pro­vide support for faculty in the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, funding and scholarships for the ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics, scholarships for non-tra­ditional geology and geo­physics students, and sup­port for OU’s Bartell Field Camp in Colorado.

“The endowment Paul Mer­shon provided will offer substan­tial new scholarship opportunities for traditional as well as non-tra­ditional students,” said R. Doug Elmore, director and Eberly Chair for OU’s ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics. “His support for the Bartell Field Camp will allow us to continue to offer an excellent experience for our students, and other gifts will provide maximum flexibility to support field trips and teaching assistantships.”

Mershon, who grew up in Wal­ters, Okla., was a World War II veteran who attended OU on the G.I. Bill. He graduated in 1957 at the age of 32 and went to work in the oil and gas industry in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. He co-founded the oil and gas com­pany Macey and Mershon of Denver and developed the “Mer­shon Decline Curve,” a formula still used today to assess oil and gas productivity.

After his retirement, Mershon helped to establish the Great Western Oil and Gas Co. He re­mained active in oil and gas ven­tures until shortly before his death at age 90 in March 2015.

He was a generous donor to OU scholarships and programs throughout his career and also es­tablished an educational founda­tion that funded the first comput­er lab in Walters Public Schools. The lab is still active today.

“Paul had a lifelong love of learning,” said niece Paula Cope­land Broe, a fellow OU alum. “He recognized the value of education and what it had done for him. He credited his degree at the Uni­versity of Oklahoma for allowing him to live his life to the fullest.”

Mershon’s love of learning ex­tended to teaching himself com­puter programming and becoming a jet pilot and world-class fisher­man. He traveled extensively, took college courses in archaeology into his 80s and spent many hours volunteering for the Early Man Project near Las Vegas.

“When he was 85, he hiked over 7 miles in one day in the Amazon rainforest with his family and afterward managed to shat­ter the bull’s-eye of a target with a bow and arrow – a feat even the native archer wasn’t able to ac­complish,” Broe said.

Though he had no children of his own, Mershon was celebrated as the patriarch of his large family, said niece Karissa Cope­land Torcom. “When Uncle Paul came home to Oklahoma, we would often load up in the car and trav­el the back roads of Oklahoma in search of geodes, fossils or arrowheads. If we didn’t find anything, he would show his great-nephews and nieces how to make their own arrowheads.”

At the time of his death, Mer­shon was hard at work on a ge­ology report for the Early Man Project, Torcom said.

“He was so caring and gener­ous,” said his sister, Cecilia “June” Mershon Copeland. “He liked helping others and loved to share his knowledge and enthusiasm about so many things.”