John Wold ’38 passed away at the age of 100 on Feb. 19, 2017 in Casper, Wyo. He was born on Aug. 31, 1916, in East Orange, N.J. Wold was not only a pioneering geologist with an everlasting effect on the mining industry, but was also a successful politician.
He grew up and spent most of his early life at Union, long before he even became a student here. His father, Peter I. Wold, led Union’s Physics Department from 1920 to 1945. Wold and his family lived in North College during that time.
There were times when Wold habitually visited the spot where old geology specimens were discarded. Primarily, that ignited his interest in geology long before he started college. At Union, Wold played hockey, was a member of the Terrace Council, the Sigma Xi science honor society; he also was a St. Andrew’s University Exchange Scholar and was a brother of Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity. Wold gave a $5 million gift to the college in summer 2016, in the memory of his wife, Jane, who died Nov. 18, 2015. Aged 92, Wold and Jane were married for 70 years.
Earlier, the couple also donated another $20 million to the school, which was the largest donation ever in the school’s history. These donations enabled the college to build the Peter Irving Wold Center – a 35,000-square-foot state-of-the-art research and education facility named after Wold’s father.
Wold held a master’s of science in geology from Cornell University and was founder and president of Wold Oil Properties, Inc. A trustee emeritus at Union, he was a former Republican U.S. Congressman from 1969 to 1971 as well. In 1999, Wold received the Eliphalet Nott Medal, which honors distinguished alumni who have attained great distinction in their fields. In 2008, he was bestowed an honorary doctor of science degree by the college as well.