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Stanford Report, January 5, 2000

A. J. Horn, Petroleum Engineering professor, dies at 82


Alvah J. Horn, professor emeritus of petroleum engineering, died at his home in Atherton, Calif., on Dec. 19. He was 82. A private service was held at his home on Dec. 20. Family members said he had been in ill health for three years.

Horn was a consulting professor of petroleum engineering in the School of Earth Sciences from 1975 to 1989. He also served as an oil and gas adviser to the Board of Trustees from 1980 to 1993, providing expertise on the university's vast petroleum holdings.

"A. J. was a much loved member of our faculty," recalled Franklin Orr, dean of earth sciences, adding that Horn brought a "certain flair" to the classroom.

The colorful professor often rode to class on an energy-efficient moped to dramatize the importance of gasoline conservation to his students. When lecturing about oil reserves in the Persian Gulf region, Horn would arrive dressed in traditional clothing from the Middle East.

In 1979 Horn was chosen as Senior Class Day speaker at the university's 88th Commencement, and he was designated "One of Those Remarkable Teachers at Stanford" in 1981. He also was a guest lecturer at various Stanford alumni events.

Horn said that during his 14 years on the Stanford faculty he had "the privilege and honor" of teaching petroleum engineering principles to more than 5,000 students who enrolled in his popular undergraduate course, PE103, "Survey of the Energy Industries."

"My business changes every day, so it stays interesting," Horn told the Stanford Daily in 1987. "My only worry is whether I'm doing the right thing in my teaching."

Born in New Orleans on Aug. 15, 1917, Horn was raised in the petroleum business. His father supervised oil- and gas-drilling projects throughout California, and young Alvah often worked at his father's side.

Horn received a bachelor's degree in chemistry at Stanford in 1939, then went to work for the Standard Oil Co. of California (now known as Chevron). He joined the U.S. Navy during World War II and earned a master's degree in aerological engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1944. He returned to Standard Oil of California in 1946 and served as the company's West Coast manager from 1965 until his retirement in 1972.

In 1990 the university created the A. J. and Ruth T. Horn Lectureship on Energy in honor of Horn and his wife. The first lecture was delivered in 1991 by author Daniel Yergin. This spring's Horn Lecture will be presented by Sir John Browne, CEO of BP/Amoco.

Horn was a Durand Fellow in the School of Engineering. He also was a member of Pi Epsilon Tau, the petroleum engineering honor society; Phi Lambda Upsilon, the chemistry honor society; and Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society.

Horn was married to the late Ruth Thornburg Horn for 50 years until her death in 1993. He is survived by daughters Cindy Feshbach of Los Altos Hills and Lynn McCarthy of Atherton; their husbands, Joe and Jim; and six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Other survivors include his brother, Steve Horn, of Long Beach, and his wife, Nini; a niece, nephew and grandnephew. SR