Warren Alonzo Rees Jr.

June 10, 1926 – May 22, 2016

Warren ReesWarren was a long time member of the Gulf Coast Gem & Mineral Society.  He was known to many simply as “The Jade Carver”, exhibiting and demonstrating at many gem & mineral shows for years. Warren was a very accomplished man earning a law degree, and degrees in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, Graduate Gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America, and a commercial pilot license.  He was a petroleum engineer by profession.  Warren donated about 20 pieces of carved jade sculptures of wild life and endangered species to the Texas State Museum of Asian Cultures and Education Center.  Pieces he had created over a period of 40 years.  Pictures will be added to this page at a later date.  The eulogy given by Chris Garcia at Warren’s service outlines many interesting details of his life.

Eulogy honoring Warren Rees 5/26/16

By Chris Garcia, church friend

Good afternoon.  On behalf of Sue and her family, I want to thank you for being here at St. John’s today to celebrate the life of Warren A. Rees, our dear friend; husband of Sue; and dad to his sons Darrell and Randal.

I am Chris Davis Garcia, and it was my privilege to know Warren and Sue for the more than 35 years that they have attended this church.

All of us were inspired and blessed by Warren’s friendship, his deep faith, and his many talents and attributes. His wise and sincere counsel, his low-keyed sense of humor (with twinkling eyes to boot!), his gentle demeanor, his work ethic, and especially in these past years, his jewelry and sculpture creations that he shared with us and with our community.

Warren was born in Austin and grew up in Houston, one of three children born to Warren and Prudence Rees.

Warren was a petroleum engineer by profession, but he held other degrees—a law degree and degrees in both mechanical and electrical engineering.

When he graduated from Mirabeau B. Lamar High School in Houston in 1943, he entered Rice Institute immediately.  He had already been sworn into the US Naval Reserve and assigned to the V-12 program at Rice to study engineering but he was only 16 years old and too young to be sworn into the Navy.

As a reservist, he started his engineering studies at Rice, then was transferred by the Navy to the University of Texas at Austin where he finished his electrical engineering degree in 1947 at the age of 21.  He was commissioned an ensign in the Navy in 1946 but was placed on inactive duty until June 1963 when he was retired by the Naval Reserve.

From 1947-1949 he studied mechanical engineering and completed all class work necessary for his Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, except the thesis.

From 1949-1952, he attended the University of Texas Law School and earned his law degree in 1952.  Around that same time, he attended flight school in Kerrville, then received his commercial pilot’s license.

And in 1995, he took correspondence courses in gemology from the Gemological Institute of America, receiving the title of “Graduate Gemologist.”

Warren’s 41-year employment and career record matched his extensive educational accomplishments. He began working as a high school senior and continued working during his college years.

But before he got too involved in his career, he married Sue (Warren always called her Suzie). They met in Austin, and Warren’s apartment backed up to Sue’s house.  She learned later he had had his eye on her for a while.

He introduced himself one day, and she said the first question she asked was “ How do you spell your last name?” He said R-E-E-S, and she said, “Oh, my last name is spelled R-E-E-S-E.” They began dating, and five months later, they were married.

Sue said she was drawn to him because he was so handsome and smart and “he could just about make anything.”

With such a short courtship, she didn’t really learn until they were married that they shared many similar interests, especially loving art, being creative, and enjoying the outdoors.

Together for 62 years, they were a perfect team and enjoyed being together, creating beautiful art works, and also sharing their interests with their sons.  I think it seemed to most of us as we got to know them that they were a match made in heaven!

In 1954, Warren began his career with Texaco, Inc. and stayed until 1963, working first as a roustabout in the oil field, then serving as a field engineer for several gas-producing fields in various areas of Texas.

In 1963, he was hired by Coastal States Gas Producing Co. and for eight years served as Chief Petroleum Engineer at Coastal States, serving areas of operations in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, West Virginia, New Mexico, and Utah.

By 1971, Warren was an independent petroleum engineer.

From 1972 through 1995, he served as president of Ariba Resources, preparing and operating various drilling prospects for independent investors; then became president of Chaparral Energy Development Corp. for 12 years.

He helped lead the merger of Chaparral Energy into Nugget Oil Corporation, then in 1987 joined Northern States Power Co. and through its subsidiary Cenergy Inc. worked to develop the natural gas supply in Texas and Louisiana. In 1995, he served on the Board of Directors of Frontier Natural Gas Co. and then retired in 1996.

And along the way, from 1960 through 1970, he was awarded three U .S. Patents for his inventions related to the oil and gas industry.

Warren’s legacy of hard work, love of knowledge, and his life-long hobbies that included geology and rock and gem collecting significantly impacted both his sons’ lives.

Darrell, Warren and Sue’s oldest son, remembers the family vacations as having a profound influence on his life. His earliest memory was at age 2 when he explored his first cave with his parents. That activity was the start of his interest in caves. Darrell went on to explore many more caves, including many in Mexico which he said was the best place ever for cave exploration.

Darrell wanted to major in Geology, but side-stepped into mathematics and physics where he earned degrees. Because of his interest in Mexico and caves, however, he went on to also earn a BA degree in Spanish, with a minor in history.

Darrell said his dad was “very inventive,” and if he didn’t have a tool for whatever project he was working on, either alone or with one of the boys, he would manufacture the tool himself.

And it helped, Darrell said, that his Dad was a pack rat because whatever was needed in any project, Warren could find something to use in boxes stored throughout the house and the garage at their Poenisch Street residence where they lived for more than 40 years before Warren and Sue relocated to the Mirador.

Randal said his treasured memories include going hunting and fishing with his Dad on ranches the family owned near Zapata, Kerrville, and Benavides.  But Randy also loved geology as his parents did and enjoyed traveling every year to Wyoming where they would collect jade, rocks, and other gems.

Randy got his associate degree in Geology, fully intending to finish his major, but says his Dad wanted him to be an engineer like his father. That, coupled with his growing up surfing off Padre Island and his love for the ocean, helped him forge his own career and follow his own heart.

Randy would later earn a degree in Ocean Engineering and has spent most of his adulthood working in Construction Management.

Reflecting about his dad, he shared these poignant words with me, “Dad set me up for a lifetime of taking care of myself and my family…just like he did. “

“He paid for my college education, which I appreciated, but beyond that, Dad taught me to work hard for everything and to become self-sufficient for a lifetime.”

A few months ago, Warren donated to the Texas State Museum of Asian Cultures and Education Center about 20 pieces of his carved jade sculptures of wild life and endangered species that he had created over period of 40 years.   They are works of art, carved with a loving and sure hand and keen eye for detail….and they will be enjoyed for many years and will inspire future artists and gemologists.

Through the years, both Warren and Sue were true artisans, creating beautiful jewelry—necklaces, earrings—to share with others and also to donate for both live and silent auctions held here at St. John’s.

I will always treasure the cross I’m wearing today that Warren created—a sterling silver cross inlaid with turquoise and African Rhodonite.cross

From the moment I saw it, I wanted it!  And after spirited bidding against a fellow church member—the late Buddy Salvo—I claimed it.  The winning bid was $170, and probably would have gone higher if someone hadn’t told Bud to stop bidding “because Chris really wants that piece.”

Warren’s servant spirit was legendary at St. John’s.  He was our head usher for more than 20 years and also served on numerous church committees that reflected his love for the church—Worship, Trustees, Finance, and the church foundation.

He also was a member of the Friendship Class adult Sunday School  class, which Jo Anne Wilshusen taught for many years, and he served as class president. And when Warren spoke, people listened!

Warren was a special man who lived a full and long life…almost 90 years.  He was like so many men of his generation, born a few years before the Great Depression, who knew the value of education and absolutely cherished learning throughout his life.

He valued hard work and commitment, and he valued family and community relationships.  But he also had a fun and adventuresome spirit, whether looking for rocks in Wyoming and beyond, or hunting and fishing, wood working, and lapidary. He was a Free Mason and a respected member of several professional associations throughout his life.

Warren leaves a legacy for his sons Darrell and Randy and Randy’s wife Christina as well as for his grandchildren Ava, Ryan, Brandon, and Aaron.

Suzie loved Warren deeply and has many happy memories that mean the world to her. He was as supportive of her artistic endeavors, which included creating church banners that are still displayed in our Sanctuary during the various church seasons, as she was of his.

We praise God this day for Warren Rees and the life he lived.

Well done, good and faithful servant.