Retirement of Two Prominent Palynologists:
Warren S. Drugg and Virgil D. Wiggins
Towards the end of 1990, two well-known palynologists turned their microscope-lights off for good: W. S. (Warren) Drugg retired from Chevron Oil Field Research Company (La Habra, California) and V. D. (Virgil) Wiggins from Chevron U.S.A., Western Region (San Ramon, California).
Both palynologists contributed significantly to the science of palynology during their long career and I believe that it is but proper to honour these colleagues in this retirement announcement. This account by no means represents a complete record of their accomplishments, but is merely intended to communicate to the palynological community that two fine colleagues have left their ranks through retirement.
Warren S. Drugg started his career with Chevron in 1958 as a palynologist in San Francisco. In 1960 he transferred to COFRC where he conducted palynological research until his retirement in 1990. A complete list of his publications would be too expensive for CAP to provide, as it would add at least another page to this newsletter thereby increasing the mailing costs, etc. Suffice it to say that Warren conducted research in the most ample sense and thereby contributed significantly to the advancement of the science of palynology. His meticulous study of the dinocysts of the European Jurassic and Cretaceous proved to be invaluable to palynologists in exploration. Whereas Warren is acknowledged in the palynological community for his brilliant observations and eye for practical detail, socially he certainly excels in many areas: he is easy to approach, a careful listener and he possesses a keen sense of wry humour which makes him unique. Besides his distinguished career as a palynologist, Warren has many qualifications and skills upon which to draw in his retirement years: he is a very accomplished woodcarver of totem poles, has a keen interest in target shooting and, above all, is loved and supported by a fine family: his wife Marleen, his sons Martin and Gordon and his daughter Karen (together they form the War on Druggs!) and, needless to say his dog Schroeder (who passed away with the honour and distinction of the Iron Cross) and his cat Odin.
Virgil D. Wiggins entered the Chevron World (the real one) in 1959 and had a very colourful career behind him when he was forced to retire in 1990 when the Operating Company for which he worked, Chevron U.S.A., Western Region, was eliminated from the Chevron Companies. Virgil, or Dale (or V. D. as he affectionately calls himself) has a distinguished career behind him which was concentrated on the practical applications of palynology. Virgil directed his efforts mainly on the Alaskan North Slope with sediments ranging from Triassic to Tertiary in age, and his main accomplishments were the application of his vast knowledge in palynology and biostratigraphy to exploration; it certainly was not him to blame for the elimination of Chevron’s Western Region! Although a master in the field of research, he once wryly commented that none of his published species or even genera survived the merciless axes of Lentin & Williams, Stover & Evitt, Brideaux or others! Indeed, Virgil has a number of publications in his name which are most valuable as exploration guides rather than mere scientific sources. Those who know him (and there are many!) are invariably touched by his personal charm; his openness and lack of defensiveness, and above all, his ability to stay young at heart. During his career Virgil was always plagued by a black cloud hanging over his head (which even caused him to fall out of an apple tree where he was allegedly stealing apples at age 60, to name but one minor incident!) More seriously, his health has been threatened by an advanced stage of diabetes, not only forcing him to “mainline” but also affecting his eyesight in a serious manner. Despite this threatening and sombre outlook, Virgil manages to maintain a genuine aura of youthfulness which makes him so dear to many colleagues.
Because of people like Warren and Virgil, the palynological world has become a better one: Warren conducted palynological research in a very meticulous and thorough manner and Virgil applied those skills to the use and service of explorationists.
These two palynologist have established themselves as highly esteemed and dear colleagues; scientifically, practically and in organization skills (they both served on the AASP Board of Directors). I am certain that I speak on behalf of the entire palynological community who knows you when I wish both of you, Warren and Virgil, the very best in your retirement. I hope you will remember in the years to come that you have contributed much during your working career to the science of palynology, and in those years you have earned the esteem and applause of your colleagues. May you have fine years ahead of you in retirement!
B. G. Van Helden
Note: This article appeared in CAP Newsletter 14(2):18-20, 1991.