Title: In Memoriam: John Jay Wanner (Jack)
Publication: The Outcrop, November 2009, p. 24
John Jay Wanner (Jack), long-time Denver resident, died unexpectedly in Boulder, CO, on December 26, 2008, after celebrating Christmas holidays with family and friends. He was born October 14, 1921, in Lyman, Wyoming. and was raised in Rock Springs, Wyoming. He graduated from Rock Springs High School in 1939 and received his second high school diploma from the Harvard School for Boys in North Hollywood, CA in 1940. He attended Colorado School of Mines in the fall of 1941, joined the ROTC, was called to service in the summer of 1943, and completed his basic training at Camp Abbott in Oregon. Jack returned to Mines for a few months before being sent to OCS at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. In the summer of 1944 he received his commission as Second Lieutenant in the Combat Engineers. He served in the European Theater from the fall of 1944 to the summer of 1946. During this time he was a Combat Engineer Commander for the 284th Combat Engineer Battalion and participated in the Battle of the Bulge, the construction of the famous pontoon bridge over the Rhine River after the original bridge was destroyed in the Battle of Remagen, and the oversight of a German POW camp in Marseilles, France. After being released from service, he returned to Mines and completed his degree in Petroleum Engineering in the summer of 1948. He married Grace Haff Blood-Smyth (Bunny) in Denver on October 8, 1948, and began his long career as a petroleum engineer working for Stanolind Oil Company in Colorado and Wyoming. In 1952 he joined a small independent company in Montana and worked there until 1956, when he moved with his family to Denver. In 1958, he hung out his shingle as an independent petroleum engineer in downtown Denver, where he worked until his death. He kept the same office space in The Colorado Building for forty-five years and worked full-time, relishing the challenges and intrigue of changes in the oil and gas industry. An old-school traditionalist, he was a wellknown figure in downtown Denver for over five decades. With a group of friends and he began river rafting on the early 60s. They introduced their families to the Yampa, Green, and Colorado Rivers using rubber rafts salvaged from the Korean War. In 1966 he, and 11 other men, using these same rafts, went down the Grand Canyon. He served as president of The University Club of Denver, and The Gyro Club. He was an active member of the YMCA for (fifty-two years), The Mile High Club, The Colorado School of Mines Alumni Association, Society of Professional Earth Scientists, Society of Petroleum Engineers, Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists, and the Remagen Bridge Society. Jack traveled extensively with his family and friends. Revisiting sites from his war experience were particularly meaningful. He was an avid outdoorsman all his life. He skied the Haute Route in Europe, skied the hut system in the Italian Alps, hiked in the Dolomites, took a pack trip through Yellowstone after the big fire. His final trip was with Bunny and close friends on the Sea Cloud II, following Christopher Columbus’s route across the southern Atlantic in November of 2008, to celebrate their sixtieth wedding anniversary. Geology was a constant companion on any trip and his family and companions were treated to bountiful lessons about our Earth. His interests were wide and varied. He loved music, gardening, sports, especially the Broncos. He was an avid reader, following current events and history, peppered with murder mysteries. His friends loved to listen to his stories and he was writing his memoir, “The Kid From Lyman.” Jack Wanner lived a full life, devoted to his family, friends, work, recreation, and his numerous organizations.