Bedrock Family, Generational “Core” Values


In March, Texans celebrate Independence Day. Many Texans know the oil industry is a patriotic bunch of folks, but sometimes we forget how much the energy producers of this country contribute to our nation’s security. In honor of all the amazing Texans that have gone before us, I am saluting an East Texan I admire in one of our favorite Texas traditions, the oil industry.

Marilyn Wood Trolinger’s family goes back four generations in the oil business, is it any wonder that she grew up knowing she was destined to be a geologist? Marilyn’s great grandfather, David Frances Connally’s success in the oil business allowed him to express his compassion by contributing financially to and promoting the drive to build St. John’s Hospital, in Tulsa Oklahoma, which opened in 1926. Then, there was her grandfather Heald.

“He was a bigwig at Texaco,” she says with a sparkle in her eye.

Her dad served as a petroleum engineer with Helmerich and Payne, which brought the family to Texas. She clearly remembers the Yates oil field, named for Ira and Ann Yates, in west Texas where her family lived when Marilyn was a little girl.

“I grew up in the middle of an oil field with a huge pump jack right in the center,” she says. The steady thrum of that Yates pump jack was the rhythm of her daily life as a young girl, as constant as her own heart beat.

I first met Marilyn when she worked for my father-in-law in the oil patch in east Texas, Montana, Louisiana, and Canada. Through him she met Bill Trollinger. She and Bill fell in love, married, and went on to do all kinds of fabulous things together.

“He (Trollinger) had been working for the CIA on a huge-scale mapping contract. He was looking for a sub-surface geologist,” she explains, adding, “he was very patriotic.”

Instead of giving foreign governments military armaments, Marylin explains, the concept was to help them locate oil and other mineral reserves to undergird their economies and stabilize certain regions of the world.

“Stereoscopes made the pictures pop-up in 3D,” explains Marilyn about the process of using overlapping photography. “It was extremely interesting work and very detailed.When you’re growing up you always want to do something for your country.”

These days she is watching her grandchildren closely to see who will be the first to choose a career in energy.

“Geology is the most fun job in the world. Its like working a puzzle all day long,” she adds.

I want to thank Marilyn for the blessing she is to our family and for the work she did to make our nation strong. For more of Marylin’s stories, including why in the world she called me a “diva,” go to

Cathy Primer Krafve, aka Checklist Charlie, lives and writes with a Texas twang. Comments are invited at or on Facebook.


Special Sections