As part of the 70th anniversary celebration, SPE GCS Continuing Education Chair and Web Site Chair Regina Eco interviewed long-time member and active volunteer D. Raymond Perry to get some insight into the history of the Gulf Coast Section. Perry has been an SPE member for nearly 60 years, and has volunteered at both the Section and international level. He now works as a consulting engineer and still attends SPE GCS monthly meetings. 

Perry joined SPE in 1948 and became chairman of the Lou-Ark Section in 1962 and chairman of the Evangeline Section in 1968. After moving to Houston, he held numerous officer positions in the Gulf Coast Section, including director, programs chair, and chairman in 1985. At the international level, Perry has volunteered on the Nominating Committee, Distinguished Author Committee, Annual Technical Conference committee, region board of directors, U.S. Council Committee, and others. 

Q: Have your employers supported your volunteering time with SPE?
A: Yes, without question. 

Q: What changes have you seen in the Gulf Coast Section offerings for members?
A: Originally, there was only one meeting a month. The GCS expanded over time into various study groups like we have today. I was fortunate to be able to encourage this expansion in the 1980s. When there was an idea for a new study group, the board advanced the group $500 for start up costs. The money was well spent; just look at the results. Social activities became a bigger part of the Section in recent years, to raise money for scholarships. 

Q: When did the Gulf Coast Section start raising funds for scholarships?
A: The Section began a formal program about 1983. Before that, money was taken from the treasury for two scholarships each year. As the Section grew,
individual members came up with ideas to raise more money each year. Once funding efforts became more effective, six scholarships were awarded each year. We were fortunate to have members who understood how to organize events and would volunteer to handle the events. The Section officers basically stayed out of their way, because we understood that they knew best what to do and they often volunteered to pay all the expenses for getting the first event started. The Section members and their employers have been very generous with their time and money. 

Q: Has your spouse been active in the SPE Houston Auxiliary and its former scholarship quilt program?
A: My wife Virginia Perry (Gin) has been very active in the Auxiliary. Early on, the Auxiliary members sold raffle tickets for quilts they made to raise money for scholarships. I became involved with their group after I spent one hot Saturday afternoon at a shopping mall where Gin and Laura Clark had sold $20 in tickets and thought they had a good day. I told them to give me that quilt and let me take it downtown to the next SPE GCS meeting where they could sell tickets and make some real money. We also hauled those quilts to various schools to show the students the efforts that the wives made for their scholarships. Gin handled the details well, and I was just “dragged along” to some of their activities. They raised $5,000 per year for several years, for quilts that took months of work in
several stages. At any one time there would be 10 to 15 wives involved. One Auxiliary member, an artist, designed all the blocks for the quilts. Others selected the colors, sewed the blocks, or quilted from top to bottom. One home each year was used to hang the quilt in a room so the wives could surround it and stitch the parts together. It took weeks. For the most part back then, the Auxiliary did not give students scholarships as such. Instead, they made student loans, which the
students repaid after going to work upon graduation. 

Q: Do you have any advice for young people entering our industry today?
A: Yes. Look ahead every day, and try to improve your knowledge. Keep up with technology and attend SPE meetings. The upstream oil industry is fun and has something new to offer you every day.