Warren S. Drugg

Warren S. Drugg is featured in two articles of the CAP Newsletter:

Warren S. Drugg

It is with a great deal of sadness that I record the passing of Warren S. Drugg in La Habra, California, on December 1, 1994, after a battle with a cancer that had only been diagnosed nine months earlier. His untimely death was a blow to his family and to all his friends in the palynological and geological community. Warren will be greatly missed by all those who had the privilege of knowing him.

He was born in Sitka, Alaska on January 29, 1929 to Nels E. Drugg, a commercial fisherman, and Edith Newhall. The family moved to Vermont in 1942 and then to Seattle, Washington in 1947, where Warren graduated from Ballard High School. In 1952 he received a BA in Geology from the University of Washington.

He then served as a First Lieutenant in the US Air Force in the Photo Radar Interpretation section of the Strategic Air Command in various locations (Topeka, Kansas, Japan, Guam and North Africa) and did much interpretative work in the Indo-China area in the early stages of the Vietnam war for which he received the Army Commendation Medal. He returned to the United States in 1956 and then obtained an MA in Geology in 1959 from his alma mater.

At this time he married Marlene Boivin, whom he had first met in 1944 through his friendship with her brother. The couple moved to San Francisco in 1958 where he worked as a palynologist for the California Exploration Company with the late Benjamin H. Burma until 1957. It was during this time that I first met Warren.

In 1960 he and Marlene moved to La Habra, California where he had been transferred to the California Research Corporation as an Associate Research Geologist. He was assigned to the Paleontology Group to plan and conduct research and development on the applications of palynology to problem solving in hydrocarbon exploration.

The laboratory was headed by the late Dr. A. R. Loeblich who had been hired recently. He induced Warren to continue his education in the field of Paleobotany which was at that time considered to be a key to the relatively new science of applied Palynology, a subject in which many oil companies were interested for its potential for solving geological problems. Warren received his Ph.D. in 1965 from the Claremont Graduate School. He studied Russian as a minor and enjoyed using his facility in the language to sprinkle a few words in ordinary conversation “for effect”.

Warren spent his entire thirty-two year career at CRC as a working palynologist making age and environmental determinations on samples from all over the world. I had occasion to consult with him many times and it was through these meetings as well as many inter-company Paleontological Meetings and Seminars and the American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists Annual Meetings that I had the good fortune to get to know Warren. We always immediately gravitated toward each other and because we had so many common interests and opinions we could immediately pick up where we had left off a year earlier.

I first really got to know Warren in 1962 when we drove from La Habra to Tucson to attend the first International Conference on Palynology. He navigated; I drove. His confidence (misplaced) in his unerring sense of direction led us to leave El Centro, basically located on a single east/west major highway, in the direction of Mexico (south). A similar incident occurred at the Dallas AASP meeting, where I, the driver was informed that Fort Worth, over in the blackness was our real destination (Warren said he was “familiar with the area” because he had been stationed at Love Field). Marlene mentioned that once when trying to leave La Habra for Seattle, on vacation, it took him five hours to get out of town.

Warren’s problem with directions did not prevent him from making substantial contributions to palynology including his published studies on the Moreno Formation of California, Some Jurassic Dinoflagellate Cysts from England, France and Germany, Some Eocene and Oligocene Phytoplankton from the Gulf Coast, USA and Some New Genera, Species and Combinations of Phytoplankton from Lower Tertiary of USA. There were also many useful unpublished company reports. I have one separate on Glyphanodinium which reads “To my field assistant, H. V. Kaska, with condescension, Warren”, another “To my good friend, from ‘Ammobroma‘ Drugg”. Warren could always inject some of his mischievous sense of humour into almost any situation, no matter how unfunny.

By the time he retired on January 1, 1991, he had been advanced to Senior Research Associate in the Geology Division and had, in recent years, mostly worked on Saudi Arabian palynology for Aramco.

Because of his Norwegian heritage he liked to compare himself favorably with the Vikings and he particularly admired their success in “looting and sacking” endeavors. He was also interested in the Northwest Indians and collected their paintings and carvings as well as having an impressive collection of his own carvings of masks and totems.

I was in Southern California last year for Thanksgiving Day. I called Warren the day after and wanted to drive to La Habra to visit, but he said he was too weak to see me. I knew that he had been suffering terribly from the effects of chemotherapy, but I was not prepared for the news from Marlene three days later that he was gone.

He wrote me a letter in 1992 after I had a heart attack which said “I am sorry that you have been struck down much as Sir Bors was unseated in a tournament, only to rise again and go on to greater triumphs” and then went on to wish for my speedy recovery. He then later, in vintage Warren style, informed me that he expected me to do the decent thing and die first. Thus I did not expect to be writing his Memorial, which has stirred many other pleasant memories of our times together, so soon and sadly. If it contains much of Warren the person, rather than an abstract of his work, it is because of the way I knew him, as a friend.

Warren leaves behind, besides his wife, three children: Martin, Gordon and Karen, all in Southern California, three grandchildren and his sister Virginia of Seattle, Washington.

We are all going to miss him.

I would like to thank Marlene, Floyd Sabins, Betty Froman and Bert Van Helden for assistance in the preparation of this Memorial.

Harold V. Kaska
Clayton, California
February 2, 1995

Note: This article appeared in CAP Newsletter 18(1):9-11, 1995.