Lester D. Moore, a leader, and advocate for the oil and gas industry on both the local and national level, passed away on October 27, 2018. Lester was born October 12, 1933, in the small hamlet of Ellery which is located in both Edwards and Wayne Counties, Illinois. He grew up on a small farm where life was a challenge. Lester told of a friend who stated that he was in good shape when he got a new piece of cardboard to put inside his shoes.
After graduating from Edwards County High School, Lester traveled to Champaign to attend the University of Illinois where he graduated with a Petroleum Engineering Degree. Upon graduation, he entered the Schlumberger training program but then was drafted into the Navy where he spent two years in the Civil Engineering Corps. In 1957 he arrived in Evansville to work for Barger Engineering from 1957 to 1960 and then Campbell and Rickman from 1960 to 1967, both petroleum engineering firms. He soon struck out on his own to seek work as an oil consultant. He worked with operators and gained valuable experience in the industry, especially with secondary recovery operations. With the downturn in the industry in the 1960s, he decided to pursue development and operations for himself. The first few months were tough with Lester stating “I remember that the books had less than one page in them – the entire entry of expense and income.” Like all fledgling oilmen, he borrowed enough money to purchase a couple of stripper leases and as his production grew, he began to drill his own wells. In 1980 and 1981, he drilled 89 wells. Over the years, Lester continued his oil business through Moore Engineering and Production Company, Inc., (Mepco), and Southern Triangle Oil Co. He had offices in Evansville and Mt. Carmel and an equipment yard in Grayville. He also operated a supply store in Crossville. Lester’s career in the Illinois Basin spanned over 60 years. He remained active to the end. With his technical knowledge, experience, and expertise, he stood out in leading the industry in development and operations. He was always available and generous with his technical advice.
Lester was a leader in the Industry in the states where his production was located and also on the national level. He was a supportive voice for the Industry and was able to clearly and intelligently articulate industry positions with legislators and regulators. He was a longtime member of the Illinois Oil and Gas Association, the Indiana Oil and Gas Association, Independent Oil Producers Association, Tri-State, and the Independent Petroleum Association of America. He took Industry battles to Washington, Springfield, Indianapolis, and all points in between. While strongly advocating for the Industry, Lester was always a gentleman. In commenting on his relationship with antagonistic politicians, Lester stated “You call on them and stay friendly. We try to impress upon them that we are ordinary people like they are.”
Lester was highly respected in the Industry. Barry Russell, the President and CEO of the Independent Petroleum Association of America stated “Lester was a strong part of the IPAA Volunteer Leadership for almost 40 years. It was a privilege to not only work closely with Lester on issues but also to consider him a close friend. On the board in those early days as well as at the time of his death, Lester was a tireless supporter of our Industry and of IPAA.” Craig R. Hedin, President of the IOGA, stated “Lester was one of my first clients in 1975. He was a most valuable mentor and friend for over 43 years – a great man. He would sit in meetings with his arms folded with that grin on his face. He would let everyone have their say and then he would speak his words of wisdom that cut right to the issue. He will be missed.” Mike Gibbons, Petroleum Engineer and former associate with Lester, was feeling stress on engineering a waterflood for Lester only to have it put into operation with oil at $9.00 a barrel. Lester advised that if oil prices did not come up within the next 6 to 12 months, it won’t matter because broke is broke and most small independents would be gone. His next bit of advice has stayed with Gibbons as he rose in the ranks to manage young engineering and geological staff over the years. Lester’s advice of “manage the things you can and cope with those things you cannot” has proven to be timeless.
Lester was an avid Fighting Illini fan, was a U.S. Navy Veteran, and a lifelong member of the Methodist Temple. Lester would be the first to credit his longtime employees for his success – Paul Hyatt, Whitman Myatt (a/k/a Unk), Stuart Davis, Wanda Embry, Charley Campbell, Ryan Bunnage, Melinda Sharp and Kelley Hoepner, all of Mepco; and Lynette Wiles and Roger Keen of Southern Triangle Oil Company. His associates have included, among others, Delwin Parker, Doug Reynolds, Jr., and Mike Gibbons.
Lester was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Joyce Moore, in 2017, and his parents. He is survived by his daughters, Leslie Hyland (Mike), Melinda Sharp (Jimmy), and Alyson Ross (Bennett); together with his grandchildren, Jennifer Kemling, Jeff Hyland, Stuart Davis, Jon Hyland, Jacob Ross, and Sam Ross; together with great-grandchildren, Payton, Carter, Cash, and Amelia; together with his brothers, Leroy Moore (Betty); and Chip Moore (Wilma). Lester is also survived by nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Funeral services for Lester were held on November 2, 2018, with burial in Bethel Cemetery in Ellery, Illinois. Memorial contributions may be made to the Methodist Temple in Evansville, Indiana, and the Bethel United Methodist Church in Ellery, Illinois, or to the donor’s favorite charity.
Farewell to an Industry Giant.