RMAG Explorers: Lou Bortz

Title: RMAG Explorers: Lou Bortz
Author: Matthew J. Rhoades
Publication: The Outcrop, August 2003, p. 6

Editors’ note: The Outcrop is reactivating an “occasional series” featuring short biographical sketches of long-time RMAG members. Some of you may remember a similar series by Matt Silverman in the early 1980s. Please contact the RMAG office if you would like to nominate someone for a future profile.

Louis C. Bortz was born in 1930 in Olive, California, the youngest of three children. Unincorporated Olive is located in Orange County, in southern California. His parents were orange growers. Lou first went to college at the University of California – Santa Barbara, where he graduated with a Bachelors degree in Education in 1954. He married his wife, Shirley a few months after graduating and went on to teach only one semester; the teaching lifestyle was not for him. He was called to active duty in the Army in the middle of that same year and served at Ft. Benning, Georgia until 1956. After his discharge from the Army in 1956, Lou headed west to attend the Mackay School of Mines, at the University of Nevada – Reno.

Lou Bortz with his wife Shirley.

Because he did not have an academic background in geology, Lou was required to take quite a few undergraduate prerequisites upon enrolling in graduate school. His Masters thesis focused on the Geology of Copenhagen Canyon, southwest of Eureka, Nevada, in the Monitor Range. Lou’s Masters thesis was to be the precursor of a career spent studying the geology of the intermountain West. After graduating in 1959, Lou moved to Denver to pursue a career in the oil and gas business.

Upon moving to Denver, Lou was employed by the Pan American Petroleum Corp. (a forerunner of Amoco). His first professional assignments involved reconnaissance field mapping in western Utah and eastern Nevada, working as a field assistant to Professor Harold Enlows of the University of Tulsa (and later, Oregon State University) and Professor Walt Youngquist (University of Oregon).  At that time, there were no detailed maps of these areas and the geology was only partially understood. Lou worked for 5 to 6 years on detailed mapping programs in Utah, northwest Colorado and southern Wyoming. As he tells it, he learned a lot about the geology of the region, but very little about the oil and gas business.

Lou and his Amoco co-workers discovered certain well-known productive plays in the intermountain west. A few of these included the Nine Mile Field, the southern plunge of Powder Wash, and stratigraphic traps beyond the closure at West Side Canal. Lou considers himself fortunate to have spent his entire geology career here in Colorado. He has published several papers on the geology and oil fields in Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and South Dakota. Lou has been active in numerous geologic organizations and associations for several decades. These include RMAG, AAPG, the Nevada Geological Society, and SIPES. He took early retirement from Amoco in July of 1986. Since that time, Lou has been associated with Ed Ackman of Advantage Resources. Ed has been a long-time friend (and one-time neighbor) of Lou.

Lou and his wife, Shirley, have been residents of the western Denver suburbs since 1959 and have two grown children and four grandchildren. Daughter Pam (Kingery) is a landman for a small, independent company here in Denver. Son John is an optical engineer in Long Beach, California.

Today, Lou still works as an independent on various projects in Montana, Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas. Lou continues to catalog his collection of plane table maps (from Midwest, Stanolind and Pan American) that were given to him by Amoco when they closed the Denver office.

Away from the office, Lou enjoys tennis, an occasional fly-fishing trip, and is a “40-year beginner” at golf.