When Carl Heinrich ’64 and Judy Cole ’66 met during a freshman orientation icebreaker at Marietta College, Carl felt an immediate connection and knew it was meant to be.
The couple, now married for more than 54 years, spent a few moments in January reflecting on how their close bond to Marietta College — and to each other — all started in 1962 and is what led them to make a major gift of $150,000 late last year through the Marietta Community Foundation to purchase a drilling simulator for Marietta College’s Petroleum Engineering program.
Carl had transferred to Marietta to study in the dual-degree Petroleum Engineering and Geology program, after getting his hands dirty for five years working rigs as a roustabout, a roughneck and then a drilling superintendent. Within days of coming to Marietta, he had his sights set on his future wife and business partner.
“We were gathered into groups for a mixer at the old Pit,” Judy says. “Each group would meet, mingle and then move on. In the first group, I met Carl, and after talking briefly, it was time to move to the next one.”
But Carl had other ideas.
“When we moved to the next group, there was Carl Heinrich,” Judy says. “And then we moved to the next group, and there was Carl Heinrich.”
It took some time for Carl to get a date, though. With Marietta’s 3-to-1, male-to-female ratio at that time, Judy’s eyes were wide open, and her date card was full.
“Graduates today have often spent their internships in the industry cutting grass or painting and maintaining equipment. A drilling rig is a whole world in and of itself.”
“Carl was a slow learner,” she says. “He would call me up on Friday night and ask for a date on Saturday. Of course, when I told him I already had a date, he’d say ‘OK, see you around campus then,’ instead of just asking for another night.”
Then a suggestion from one of Carl’s friends helped to move things along.
“Carl had an awesome asset that he hadn’t been promoting,” Judy says with a laugh. “He had a car! At that time, no freshmen had cars.”
Carl asked Judy to go for a ride in the country — and that drive led to a lifetime of adventures for the couple, who have two adult children, Joe and Christy.
After graduation, Carl took a job in the Morrow County oilfield — the last of the old town-lot drilling sites prior to spacing laws — before joining Quaker State as a district engineer, and Judy worked as a teacher.
In the early years, water fracking was the current completion method for oil and gas. In 1978, Carl came up with the idea to use nitrogen for fracking, allowing him to produce oil and gas from the Devonian Shale.
“It started a boom,” Judy says.
Oil production in Southeastern Ohio took off, and the couple formed Heinrich Enterprises, the first of many business entities they started to drill and operate wells throughout the mid-Ohio Valley. By then, armed with a master’s degree in Economics from Ohio University, Judy left teaching and was immersed completely in the oil and gas industry.
“Carl was the engineer, and I was the business and marketing manager,” she says. “He would make deals, and then I would work with the accountants and lawyers to make sure they were viable on paper.”
Judy also became a gas marketer in the then-male-dominated field, purchasing gas from local producers and selling it to local industry, transporting it through the Columbia system.
In 2008, when Carl and Judy were ready to retire, Christy and her husband, Brian Chavez, returned to Marietta to take the reins of their companies. Carl and Judy are far from hands off, though.
The Heinrichs have been longtime supporters of Marietta College’s students. The steadfast Erwin Academy members contribute regularly to The Marietta Fund and have been providing internship opportunities for students at their companies since the early days. At this year’s Founders Day celebration, Marietta College honored them with the Linsley Community Partner Award for their many years of collaboration and involvement in the community.
Pioneers of the oil and gas industry in Southeastern Ohio, the Heinrichs want to empower Marietta students with hands-on experience that would otherwise take them years in the field to acquire.
“Drilling takes a lot of skill and good common sense,” says Carl, explaining why it was important to him and Judy to purchase a drilling simulator for Marietta College’s Petroleum Engineering program.
The simulator allows students to get a good feel for the mechanics of drilling from the safety of the classroom. “Graduates today have often spent their internships in the industry cutting grass or painting and maintaining equipment. A drilling rig is a whole world in and of itself.”
- Chris Rynd