Paul T. Walton, a Salt Lake City geologist who successfully prospected for oil and gas around the world, died Monday at home at age 84. He had suffered from a neurological disease.
In 1939, Walton made his first trip to the Middle East to head a prospecting team for Standard Oil Company. A decade later, he negotiated an agreement for the oil concession in what was then known as the "neutral zone" between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Dressed in Arab clothing, Walton sat with King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud of Arabia - the "Lord of the Desert" - as the king signed the agreement.The deal would make Walton's boss, J. Paul Getty, untold millions. In 1990, the oil deposit Walton had discovered - the Wafra oil field - was set afire by Saddam Hussein's troops invading Kuwait.
In the '50s, Walton focused his oil-exploration businesses on the Rocky Mountains. He discovered a gas field in central Utah's Wasatch Plateau that provided post-war Provo and Salt Lake City with natural gas. He had successful oil and gas leases in Utah's Uinta Basin and Wyoming.
Walton, who held geology degrees from the University of Utah and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, owned and worked a cattle ranch in the shadow of the Tetons near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He trained horses to play polo and work the ranch. He played tournament polo in Wyoming and Palm Desert, California, until the age of 75.
In memoirs published in 1990, Walton used the words of his business partner N.G. Morgan Sr. to express his own philosophy: "The most glorious adventure in life is making your own way in the world."
Walton was born February 4, 1914, in Salt Lake City. He is survived by his wife, Betty Walton; children, Holly Bachanan, Reno, Nevada; Paul Talmage Walton Jr., Indio, California; and Ann Elizabeth Walton, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
The family will host an open house at the Cottonwood Country Club, 1780 E. Lakewood Drive, on Friday from 5 to 7 p.m.
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