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Eltiste Family

William Eltiste

Born - November 8, 1900

Phillips County, Kansas

Married - June 1937

Died - January 4, 1968

Fallon, Churchill County, Nevada

Buried - Fallon Cemetery

Fallon, Churchill County, Nevada

North Public Lawn-2  Section-30A  Space-19


William Eltiste

FALLON — William Eltiste. 67, died Thursday enroot to Churchill Public Hospital
Mr. Eltiste an Engineer for Standard Oil in Arabia had made his home in Fallon, since his retirement three years ago.  He was Born in Kansas on November 8, 1900. Surviving are his widow Esta Eltiste of Fallon, a daughter Kathryn Wilson of California, five grandchildren and a sister, Louise Carolan of California.
A funeral service was to beheld this afternoon in the Austin Funeral Home with burial to be in the Fallon Cemetery.

Nevada State Journal

January 7, 1968

Reno, Nevada




William "Bill" Eltiste- Second from the Left

Photo From Richard C. Kerr Collection

Bill Eltiste on the job, in the middle of the Photo,

taken in Saudi Arabia as one of the first guys on the CASOC expedition.

Picture dates from the mid-1930s





 Letter From Kay Wilson

The book concerning Bill will let you know a little about his understated brilliance. He could make himself understand in seven languages and read and write four or five. I am sure Louise filled you in on his career.

He was first and foremost, a kind, good man with a rare wit. I know and loved him from the time I was seven.

He invented a gadget to stop that great oil fire in Arabia, and originated many things, which he gave freely to the company.

The Arabs loved him. No matter how many men named “Bill” might have come to the deserts, there was only one “Sahih Bill” as far as they were concerned.


Very Sincerely,

Kay Wilson





 From Mike Gerow

Bill Eltiste was a fine-looking man, and by appearances a tough customer, considering his occupation as driller, rig maker, wildcatter, etc. I have read where he was regarded in the highest terms by everyone over the years, especially the Arabs, and he was even the subject of an egg-head university study analyzing his management achievements in integrating indigenous workers into modern industrial methods.
Bill Eltiste is mentioned several times in the book, "Discovery - The Search for Arabian Oil" by Wallace Stegner,  including one incident during an Italian bombing raid during the early days of WW 2.  Bombs started landing in the vicinity, and everybody ran outside to see what the commotion was. Bill happened to be stark naked at the time, and during the excitement found himself in conversation with his neighbor, Mrs. Dreyfus. Bill was quick to mention that it was pitch black, as only Arabian nights can be, so there was no impropriety involved!

Mike's Father, Russell T. Gerow (1897-1993), was in Arabia

from 9/34 to 5/35,and served as an aerial photographer and mechanic on the company's Fairchild 71, which the geologists used to explore for drilling sites from the air.






Fire At Dammam No. 12


In 1939 courage and imagination became more important than special equipment in the ten-day fight to control


The valorous fire fighters continued to work around the clock. They needed special equipment to get into the eye of the holocaust and the shop built it, sometimes in a matter of hours. The first break came when Herb Fritzie, Walt Sims of Bapco and two other men got deep enough into the fire in a series of agonizing thrusts to force a gate valve closed with a four-foot wrench. At last the fire lowered.


Then Eltiste took his turn again. This time he found the source of the fire. A man who read engineering handbooks the way some read mystery stories, Eltiste moved back from the fire and described to John Box a big iron spoon-like device he wanted built. Box hurried to the shop and overnight fashioned the strange object.


When the "spoon" was ready, Eltiste had his crew join 200 feet of eight-inch pipe. The spoon was fitted to the pipe. Then a pair of side-boom tractors carried the pipe-handled spoon forward. Eltiste moved in ahead and directed the maneuver from behind a fire screen. It was a tricky tactic. But suddenly the upside-down spoon was right where Eltiste wanted it—atop a broken swage nipple on the well's control valve.


The great fire dropped like a Bunsen burner suddenly turned down. A big part of the battle was won.

The final phase arrived. A week had passed and men were exhausted from carrying on their regular duties while doggedly helping the emergency crews. Word came that experts from Anglo-Iranian were coming with more equipment. And the doughty battlers at Dammam No. 12 also heard that Myron Kinley, the best-known oil well fire fighter in the world, was getting ready to fly across the Atlantic with his crew.


One man, Ed Braun, spoke for all at No. 12. He is supposed to have said: "We don't need any of these experts. This is our fire."


When Eltiste's spoon snuffed out a good part of the soaring flame, the world-wide assembly of experts and equipment was slowed down. Kinley was held in New York. While the professionals awaited further word, the amateurs closed in for the final round.

The brave men were tired but jubilant. Floyd Ohliger

sent a cable to San Francisco:



Dammam No. 12 had created its own pro's






 Bill Eltiste

Bill Eltiste, a general utility man in transportation, machine shop and garage in Argentina in 1922. When Eltiste pulled out in 1925 to take a leave in the States, he worked about a month at Taft, in the San Joaquin Valley, and then headed out for Maracaibo, Venezuela. After a year there he went on to Colombia.

It is a legend in Arabia now that at some point in these early years Bill Eltiste and Dick Kerr, observing how a camel's big squishy feet spread out to the size of a manhole cover in loose sand, commandeered a cargo camel and hoisted him on an A-frame and weighed him and then sat down with a slide rule and figured out the ratio of foot-surface to body weight, and so devised the low-pressure sand tires that have since revolutionized off-road work in the desert. They were indeed pioneers in off-road transportation, but neither Eltiste nor Kerr admits to weighing any camel



William Eltiste World Traveler




Ship & Plane

November 2, 1925 Valparaiso, Chile New York, New York Santa Elisa
December 13, 1928 Puerto Colombia, Colombia San Francisco, California Guatemala
September 7, 1934 Southampton, England New York, New York Aquitania
March 8, 1942 Bolama, Guinea-Bissau New York, New York Yankee Clipper
March 31, 1942 Hamilton, Bermuda New York, New York Yankee Clipper
August 1, 1952 London England Idlewild, New York Pan America Airways
March 26, 1957 Dharan, Saudi Arabia Amsterdam, Netherlands KLM Dutch Airlines
March 27, 1957 Amsterdam, Netherlands New York, New York KLM Dutch Airlines


Wife - Esta Margaret (Lee) Boland McDonald Eltiste

Born - March 23, 1900

Salmon, Lemhi County, Idaho

Died - June 16,1987

Buried - Fallon Cemetery

Fallon, Churchill County, Nevada

North Public Lawn-2  Section-30A  Space-20

2nd Husband - Rod J. McDonald

Married - August 4, 1920

Pocatello, Bannock County, Idaho



Step -Daughter - Kathryn (McDonald) Wilson

Born - August 9, 1921



Sister - Louise H. (Eltiste) Carolan

Born - September 8, 1902 - Kansas


Brother - Fred Eltiste

Born - November 8, 1905 - Kansas

Died -  June 9, 1955

Marin County, California


Sister - Sophie Margaret Eltiste

Born - April 16,1908 -California


Veteran World War IIBrother - Albert George Eltiste

Born - January 15 ,1911 -California


Brother - Alfred E. Eltiste

Twin Brother

Born - January 15, 1911 -California



Father -Johan Fredrich Eltiste

Mother - Karoline (Ehman) Eltiste






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