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MSU mourns the loss of alumni and generous benefactor Dr. Richard "Dick" Walls

news-thumb-walls-mason.webpDr. Richard Walls (Class of 1971), a charitable donor to the Morehead State geology program and member of the MSU Alumni Hall of Fame, recently passed at 74.

Walls was from Maysville, Kentucky, and came to MSU to major in journalism. A geology course sparked his interest, so he changed his major - and, ultimately, the entire trajectory of his life. He graduated top of his class at MSU and pursued a master's degree in geology from UNC Chapel Hill. Upon graduation from UNC, he was slated to go to Yale to pursue his Ph.D. However, his path changed, and he followed a Canadian carbonate expert to McGill University. Through this connection, he began mapping his thesis on horseback in the Canadian Rockies and soon struck oil. He graduated from McGill with his Ph.D. in Geology in 1977.

Walls was instrumental in discovering significant oil and gas deposits in Canada and the U.S. He was recognized as an entrepreneurial leader in the Canadian oil and gas industry. He owned multiple companies such as Pan East, Canadian Midstream, Fairborne, and an international company with production in Columbia.

Walls received numerous accolades for his professional accomplishments. In 2005, the MSU Alumni Association inducted him into the Alumni Hall of Fame. In 2015, he received the Stanley Slipper Gold Medal for outstanding contributions to oil and gas exploration in Canada.

Walls never forgot where his geology journey began and supported the Morehead State Geology program throughout his life. He created two endowments with the MSU Foundation to help students involved with the Morehead Geological Society. The Dr. Richard A. Walls Scholarship is awarded annually in the name of three of Wall's mentors, Dr. H. W. Straley III, Dr. Jules DuBar, and Dr. John Philley. The endowment also funds scholarships for students to attend field camps. Additionally, Walls provided the funding to create a research endowment supporting faculty and student-applied research activities. The two endowments he established have a combined market value of over $600,000.

"Dick was always willing to support the Geology program here at MSU," said Walls' longtime friend and MSU geology professor emeritus, Charlie Mason (Class of 1975). "He was a good friend who cared about the students here in Eastern Kentucky. He wanted to support them to get out in the field and learn. So many students have benefitted from his generosity, and I am glad his legacy will be passed down and continue to inspire future geologists."

Walls passed away Wednesday, Aug. 2, surrounded by his wife, Carolina, and their children. To read Walls' complete obituary, please visit

To learn more about the Geology Program at MSU, please visit

Photo Caption: Walls, left, with his colleague and friend, Professor Emeritus Charles Mason.