George T. Stapleton '75

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How in the world does someone get from 750 Fowler Street to running a large corporation headquartered in Calgary, Alberta that is currently testing an electro-thermal approach to the extraction and production of bitumen from the Athabasca tar sands. Just ask Brother George T. Stapleton (GA #1369). With 35 years of international experience in the off-shore oil construction and service industry including oil and gas exploration projects, he knows.

Upon graduation from Georgia Tech in 1975 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering, George spent 19 years overseas with J. Ray McDermott in the Arabian Gulf, North Sea and Asia as Division Manager responsible for all business development activities throughout the region prior to assuming his current role.

We caught up with Brother Stapleton in between trips from Houston to Canada...and found a Brother of Gamma Alpha who is proud to give back. "Growing up as an Army brat, I lived on a number of posts throughout the US and overseas including Germany, Spain and Argentina," he said. "My dad was a career military officer...Full Bird Colonel & grad of West Point...Class of we moved constantly. I went to Mount Vernon High School in Alexandria, Va. where my father was assigned to the Pentagon, when not serving in Vietnam."

He continued, "I knew I wanted to attend a top engineering university in the south, which put Georgia Tech at the top of my list. As luck would have it, Cary Thach (GA #1356) was my dorm's RA. It was still 2-3 days before most students would begin arriving, so Cary took me over to the Sigma Nu house and introduced me to what would become my Stateside "family". After meeting such characters as Bobby Clotworthy (GA #1359), Steve 'Blade' Day (GA #1349), Lee Douglas (GA #1348), Tom Fowler (GA #1334), Nelson Brooks (GA #1346), Dickie Carpenter (GA #1340), Jeff Tiller (GA #1364), and Pat McKenna (GA #1345), I don't think I even looked at any other fraternities. I accepted my bid as soon as it was offered and was the first of my pledge class.

Brother Stapleton learned quickly that the fraternity could lead to lifelong friendships.

"Randy Tate (GA #1375) and I had gone to high school together and he also pledged Sigma Nu. I recall voicing an opinion during Rush that Dave Heindel (GA #1388), who was from New Jersey, was way too obnoxious to fit in at Sigma Nu and boy was I wrong. Not about the obnoxious part, but about him fitting in. He became one of my best friends and I even traveled from Singapore to be at his wedding in San Francisco one week after the earthquake.

"I am sure that everyone believes their pledge class to be the best, as do I. Besides Dave and Randy, I made more than a few trips to Moe's and Joe's with Dean Clower (GA #1368), Jim Daws (GA #1367), John Bradley (GA #1377) and Gery Vornbrock (GA#1391). John and I roomed together at the house our sophomore year, and there never seemed to be a dull moment, particularly when living two doors down from Dickie and Doug Edwards (GA #1327). Shaving cream and water balloons were the norm.

That year's pledge class was also special and included my only little brother, John Rhett (GA #1402)."

Rhett, who is currently Chairman of SunTrust Investment Services recalls George fondly. "George was a genius. It just wasn't fair...he never studied and consistently pulled a 4.0. Sometimes it took me three quarters to aggregate a 4.0."

After graduation, Brother Stapleton faced the prospect of joining the work force with a wardrobe of t-shirts, cut-offs and flip-flops. "I accepted a job with J. Ray McDermott in New Orleans and, after some discussion, was able to wrangle a $500 advance in lieu of the
company paying for my relocation since I had nothing to relocate.

"After three months, I was asked whether I would consider a sixmonth temporary assignment to Dubai in the Arabian Gulf. The overseas premiums looked very attractive and I had the travel bug anyway, so in July 1975 I moved to the Middle East. My assignment got extended to 18 months and eventually to 19 years before I
returned to the US. During that time I spent three years in the Middle East and India, three years in the North Sea, principally Belgium and Norway, where I met my wife Audhild, and then 13 years in southeast Asia between Singapore and Indonesia. I left the US with flipflops, t-shirts, cut-offs and a backpack and returned 19 years later with a wife, 3 children and a 40-foot container."

Since leaving McDermott in 1994, Brother Stapleton has been based in Houston where he has been involved in the development of energy-related projects and startup companies. He is the co-founder of a company testing an electro-thermal approach to producing
bitumen from Canada's tar sands with significantly reduced environmental footprint when compared to current open-pit mining operations. A second company is producing heavy oil in Missouri. Current projects include an avoided deforestation project in the
Brazilian rain forest, the commercialization of a silicon-based chemical that has multiple uses in enhanced oil recovery, mining and industrial cleaning and the establishment of a distribution company for a breast cancer risk assessment test.

And he's enjoying time with those great things brought back to the US with him. "My wife and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage next January. Hilde has been battling melanoma since 1999, with a recurrence from 2006 through 2008. Recent scans show no
evidence of disease, and with children now grown, we are looking forward to traveling and reconnecting with old friends. All three children were born in Singapore. My oldest daughter is completing a Ph.D in English literature at the University of Wisconsin, my
second daughter is a theater graduate who has been working as a stage manager off-Broadway for the past three years and my son is entering his senior year in petroleum engineering at Texas A&M."

Brother Stapleton proves that no amount of distance can break the Sigma Nu bonds.

"My many years abroad were a wonderful experience, but I lost contact with so many of my friends from Georgia Tech and fraternity Brothers from Sigma Nu," he said. "When Gary Jones (GA #1290) called me regarding a contribution to the Capital Campaign for
a new Sigma Nu house, I knew this was a positive way to begin to reconnect with these friends. Sigma Nu made a huge impact on me, and this was a way to recognize that fact and say THANKS! A planned Homecoming visit in 2006 had to be postponed, but I am
hopeful that Hilde and I can make it this year. My experience in Sigma Nu at Georgia Tech was a remarkable experience....primarily because of the amazing Brothers I was able to meet and with whom I was able to share that experience. I really owe a lot to Gamma Alpha of Sigma Nu."