Floyd Wayne Preston

Floyd Wayne Preston, 98, passed away peacefully on April 1st, 2021 at home in Lawrence, Kansas surrounded by family and friends.

Floyd was born on February 11, 1923, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was the oldest son of Thomas Floyd Preston and Edna Veronica Ledwich Preston. Shortly after his birth the family moved to Los Angeles, California, where he spent the rest of his childhood years. Floyd attended Arlington Heights Elementary, Mount Vernon Junior High, and Los Angeles High School where he graduated in the winter of 1941. During the spring, summer, and early fall of 1941, Floyd worked as a teller at Security First National Bank in Los Angeles. In September 1941, Floyd began pursuing a degree in chemistry at UCLA. During the second half of his sophomore year, he met the love of his life, Eleanor June Daus (June), his physics lab partner. Shortly after they began dating, Floyd transferred to Cal Tech, majoring in Chemistry. Floyd and June became engaged on Christmas Eve, 1943, and

Floyd completed his degree in June 1944, and began working on a NDRC (National Defense Research Committee) rocket research project at Cal Tech under Dr. Linus Pauling until the end of the war. Floyd and June married July 8, 1945 and the couple moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he completed his Master’s degree in chemical engineering. The couple then moved back to Southern California where Floyd was a research engineer for Standard Oil of California in La Habra, California. And they welcomed their first child, Carl Bruce Preston. After two years in California, the couple moved to Penn State where Floyd completed his doctorate in petroleum and natural gas. Within the first year at Penn State, Floyd and June welcomed their second son, Harold Wayne Preston. In early 1955, the family moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where Floyd accepted a position as an assistant professor of petroleum engineering and became a half-time employee of the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas. On where their third son Donald Floyd Preston was born. In September 1958, Floyd was promoted to associate professor, and Steven Dean Preston was born.

Shortly after Steven was born, Floyd accepted a two-year appointment as an advisor to the Venezuelan Oil Ministry in Caracas, Venezuela. Floyd moved to Venezuela in January 1959 and the family joined him in June and lived in Venezuela for the next two years. The whole family returned to Lawrence, Kansas, in January 1961. The journey for the trip home became a life-threatening experience, as they were on board a Portuguese Caribbean cruise ship that was hijacked by 25 political revolutionaries. (Google: Hijacking of SS Santa Maria) For two weeks everyone on board was a hostage; but thankfully, this situation ended safely and the family returned home to Lawrence, Kansas.

After their return, life returned to normal. In 1966, Floyd became professor in chemical and petroleum engineering and assumed the dept chairmanship from 1974 to 1979. During 1971 and 1972, he served as the first faculty advisor to the newly established minority program, SCORMEBE (Student Council for Recruiting and Motivating Educating Black Engineers) which developed into the School of Engineering Minority Program. Floyd’s international involvement continued through the summer of 1974 as an advisor to the Algerian National Oil Company in Algeria and in mid-winter service to the Petroleum Research Center in Tripoli, Libya. He served as a Fulbright Senior Lecturer as the Trinidad Tesoro distinguished professor in the academic year 1981 to 1982 at the University of the West Indies. June was able to accompany him during that year.

Following his Fulbright service in Trinidad he continued to be a consultant at the National Institute of Higher Education Science and Technology for the government of Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies, from 1983 to 1987.

Floyd specialized in flow of fluids and porous media, digital computer applications to the description of structure of porous media and applications of computers to geology.

During his professional career he was a member of the American Chemical Society, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Statistical Society, Society of Petroleum of Engineering, International Association of Mathematical Geology, as well as a member honor society in science and engineering.

In addition to his engineering professional career, with his wife June, they collected nearly 100,000 butterflies of North America considered by the McGuire Center of Lepidoptera and Bio diversity, to which their collection was given, to be probably one of the most significant collections of North American butterflies ever assembled.

Floyd leaves behind sons, Bruce (Linda) of Ft. Collins, Co; Harold (Kathy) of Carrollton, TX; Donald (Bobbie) of Kenmore, WA; Steve (Sonia); six grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life will occur on September 2, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. at the Plymouth Congregational Church. Inurnment is at Pioneer Cemetery next to the love of his life.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Plymouth Congregational Church or the Lawrence Habitat for Humanity and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

6 Condolences

  1. Steven Norby on July 18, 2021 at 7:57 am

    Floyd Preston, you were as fine a gentleman as I’ve ever met.
    Fare thee well, my friend.
    Sincere condolences to the Preston Family.

  2. Susan Harrison on July 27, 2021 at 9:58 am

    Dear Family, Preston and I became friends through the health arena. He was so much fun and I always looked forward to our visits and his wonderful stories. I loved how much he loved his wife and spoke of her with such longing. Him and I had a joke about the magnifying glass he kept in his pocket, a special name for it, we laughed until it hurt every time I saw him. He was a gentle man and smart as a whip. I am so sorry he has left us, but so happy that him and June are together again. I will miss you friend.

  3. Julian P. Donahue on August 10, 2021 at 6:53 pm

    Floyd and June were significant members of The Lepidopterists’ Society, and they were enthusiastic participants in numerous annual meetings. Their collection of North American butterflies was indeed one of the most significant collections ever amassed, and their contributions to science will live on for decades to come at the research facilities of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity in Gainesville, Florida.

    Thank you for having been a part of my life.

  4. Dr. Stephen and Marilyn Koshland on August 12, 2021 at 9:03 am

    Floyd was a wonderful human being and an excellent yet humble sharer of knowledge.
    We were lucky enough to be considered amongst Floyd and June’s friends and spent many hours in their company.
    We are making a donation in their memory to the Idalia Society in Kansas City, as they both were very active and contributing members.
    Dr. Stephen and Marilyn Koshland

  5. Paul R. Ehrlich on September 18, 2021 at 5:18 pm

    Just got the bad news. Anne and I were close to Floyd and June in the 1950s and I and they drove to Alaska in the summer of 1955 collecting butterflies while Anne stayed home, pregnant with our daughter (who is now a grandmother). We exchanged annual letters ever since, with occasional visits. Wonderful people, who we miss.

  6. Krishna Brian Seebaran on January 10, 2022 at 8:43 pm

    My condolence. Professor Floyd Preston taught me in final year Bsc program in Petroleum Engineering at the University of the West Indies. He was extremely good at computing. Goodbye

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