Chester Burette Benge Jr, 89, who previously served as Secretary, Vice President, President and Chairman of IADC’s Executive Committee, passed away on 16 July at his home in Houston. Mr Benge’s career in the drilling contractor industry started in 1955, when he was hired as a bookkeeper and management trainee at Big 6 Drilling Company. He rose through the company ranks, being promoted to Vice President in 1970 and President in 1979. At the time of his death, he served as Big 6 Drilling’s Chairman of the Board.
Despite its boom and bust cycles, Mr Benge loved working in the drilling industry. In a 1979 interview with Time magazine, Mr Benge was quoted as saying that “the oil business was one of the few where you could go to bed poor and wake up rich.” He enjoyed the camaraderie of people in the oil and gas industry – in Houston and around the world – and was active in professional organizations, including IADC, the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners and the American Petroleum Institute. He testified before US Congress several times on industry safety standards and federal regulations. In 1989, he was awarded IADC’s Contractor of the Year award.
He attended the University of Houston (UH) while working at Big 6, earning his bachelor of business administration degree in 1959. He would later serve on UH’s Board of Regents and as a Trustee of the University of Houston Foundation. Mr Benge also worked on the Dean’s Advisory Board for UH’s C.T. Bauer College of Business and the UH School of Petroleum Engineering; he played an instrumental role in founding the petroleum engineering school.
Mr Benge is survived by Margaret Bell Benge, his wife of 59 years, his daughter Marguerite Griffith and her husband Geoff, and two grandchildren Emily and William Griffith. Mr Benge also is survived by his brothers, Walter Benge of Lancaster, California and Raymond Benge of Linden, Tennessee and their families.