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Four To Be Inducted into New York State Oil Producers Wall of Fame

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Dunning, Euken, Phillips, and Smith to join historic wall

From Bolivar NY’s Pioneer Oil Museum,

The New York State Oil Producers’ Association will induct four men into its Wall of Fame, located at the Pioneer Oil Museum’s Hahn & Schaffner site on Boss Street, on Friday, June 28.

            Honored will be the late J.F. (Dutch) Dunning, Jim Euken, Dean Phillips, and Dick Smith – each for making significant contributions to the oil and gas industry in the Twin Tiers of New York and Pennsylvania.

            The public is invited to attend the ceremony, which begins at 6 p.m. with the inductions, followed by a wine and cheese tasting.  Tickets for the wine tasting are $20 and may be purchased at the Pioneer Oil Museum’s Main Street site, the Bolivar Free Library, via postal mail, or the night of the event.

J.F. (Dutch) Dunning (1899-1985)   

            Dunning was a self-employed drilling contractor and oil producer for many years, mainly in the Little Genesee area.  His family operated the Dunning Oil Company, which produced an oil lease of over 250 acres on Coon Hollow. 

In addition to his work in the oil business, J.F. was a long-standing member of the Bolivar Fire Department and a member of the Allegany County Firemen’s Association, functioning as treasurer for both organizations.  He served in numerous positions for the Bolivar Fire Department for over forty years and was a charter member and past president of the Southwestern New York Firemen’s Association. 

Jim Euken (1946-2020)

Jim Euken graduated from Wellsville Central School in 1964.  He attended the University of Buffalo, eventually graduating from the University of Buffalo Law School with a Juris Doctor degree.  He served as Allegany County public defender for several years, and three times he was elected Allegany County District Attorney, serving for 13 years.  In 1997, Jim was elected as county judge for another 13 years. 

Outside of the world of law, he loved the excitement of the oil and gas world.  Along with Jim Reynolds and Tom Hungerford, they formed the Rock Candy Mountain Corporation which purchased mineral rights in the Wellsville area.  He partnered with Bob Benson in production of gas wells in the Allegany, NY area.  Jim also served as a director of the New York State Oil Producers’ Association.  As a youngster, during summers in high school, he worked for the Bradley Producing Corporation in order to get out on the leases and experience the oil industry.

Dean Phillips (1953 – 2020)                 

Dean Phillips graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in business administration and marketing.  During his career, he made a huge impact on the local gas industry.  He was the managing partner of Vandermark Associates from 1982-1986, and he owned and operated Vandermark Exploration, a natural gas company, from 1986-2007.  Later he became the president of Rayner Resources, LLC from 2007-2020. 

Dean worked with a large number of oil and gas producers in New York and Pennsylvania as he leased over 43,000 acres of land for drilling purposes.  He signed over 603 leases for gas drilling in Allegany and Steuben counties.  He was a member of both the New York State Oil Producers’ Association and Independent Oil & Gas Association, and he participated in lease acquisitions with Columbia Natural Resources, Pennsylvania General Energy, and Corning Incorporated.

Dick Smith (1920-2010) 

Dick Smith was a graduate of St. Petersburg, Florida High School.  Shortly after graduation, the 18-year-old Dick and his family moved to Bolivar where he began his work in the local oil fields which lasted for over 70 years.  He spent many summers working family oil leases near Bradford and Eldred, PA, as he became a second-generation local oil producer.  For many years he operated the Swarthout Lease on Salt Rising Road ear Bolivar as well as worked on other area oil leases. 

Dick was a member of the New York State Oil Producers’ Association.  He was a substitute mail carrier for ten years and a former member of the Olean Moose Lodge.  His outside interests included hunting and fishing, and he was also a baseball fanatic and loved the New York Yankees.

The New York State Oil Producers’ Association (NYSOPA) organized this Wall of Fame in 2005 to honor those individuals who had been involved with the local oil/gas industry anywhere from the late 1800’s to the present day.  There are 74 names on the Wall of Fame, all honored posthumously.

            NYSOPA works in conjunction with the Pioneer Oil Museum, which compiles research on the honorees, displays the plaques, and provides the setting for the event.

            Bronze plaques with the inductees’ photos will be placed on a wall in the museum.  During the ceremony, family members will be provided time to speak about their loved ones.

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