Anecdotes of a Lifetime: Memoirs of a Professional Geologist by Michael D. Campbell


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This book chronicles the struggles and successes of a boy of the 1940s from a lower-middle class family in central Ohio in becoming a prominent professional geologist well known in the U.S. and around the world. His memoirs are a testament of his commitment to moving forward, to learning more, while confronting serious impediments. Pure luck, combined with support and encouragement provided by his mother and father, by his grade-school principal, by his high-school friends and teachers, by some of his college professors, by many of his employers, and by his first wife’s assistance, his second wife’s unerring support and assistance, his son’s invaluable capabilities in the field and in computers, and with the moral support of his daughters and his sister and brother, allowed him to go after his dreams of traveling the world in worthwhile pursuits.

His story should provide incentives to those coming from the lower economic levels of American society, where commitment builds confidence, which fosters success, the principal thread throughout the story is of a little boy growing into manhood and professional maturity illustrated by anecdotes of mistakes and successes along the way that impacted and reinforced his personal development, critical thinking and behavior throughout his life as a professional geologist, husband, father and grandfather.

His professional experiences after leaving Ohio in the decades that followed, combined with his earlier experiences as a Boy Scout and at summer camp, allowed him to overcome the potentially deadly environments in the Outback of Australia, the language issues while in many countries in Europe, and the potential political issues prevalent in Africa, and even in Vietnam many years after the Vietnam War ended. As a result, he became a well-known leader in geology and hydrogeology in the mining industry and in the environmental engineering industry, finishing with the leadership position in the DuPont environmental group in Houston. During those years he had to deal with ethical and criminal issues in the mining industry, involving the ACLU at one time and the Mafia at another time, and ethical and managerial issues in the environmental industry at later times. He soon focused on geological research because it seeks to establish the physical characteristics and conditions of the Earth’s natural resources and reveals the impact on the environment created by nature and/or by some industries.

Earlier in his career, he produced a major textbook published by McGraw-Hill (1973) with the assistance of one of his college professors that sold some 40,000 copies worldwide and then later encouraged him to produce many scientific papers, reports, and book chapters, together numbering more than 200 by last count. Another book on the geology of alternate energy resources was published in 1977 by the Houston Geological Society. Apparently, his leadership Myers-Briggs personality type, in addition to his resume of experience, were used to assess his fitness to lead groups of professionals in a number of geological engineering companies. He had become very marketable because of his skills as a bonafide hydrogeologist and leader allowing for substantial signing bonuses from three environmental engineering companies in the latter 1980s and 1990s. He devoted his time to managing his employees and contributed to professional societies and developed a major environmental training program for furloughed oil and gas professionals in the mid-1990s.

This is a book of anecdotes linked together with tangential stories and of digressions that convey the rest of the story in his engaging speaking style and stream of conscious recollections that those who have enjoyed his formal lectures will recognize and appreciate while, in the process, sharing poignant and refreshing insights on the world around him.


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