Hubert E. Risser
Hubert Elias Risser was born in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1914. He earned his B.S. degree from the Colorado School of Mines in 1937. Before and after serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during World War II, he worked as a mining engineer for Alabama By-Products Corporation. In 1950, he returned to Kansas, where he earned an M.S. degree in mining engineering (1953) and a Ph.D. in economics (1956) while teaching and serving as a consultant to the Kansas Geological Survey.
In 1957, Walter Voskuil recruited Risser to join him at the Illinois State Geological Survey. When Voskuil retired two years later, Risser became Head of the Mineral Economics Group. He demonstrated analytical skills in the analyses of markets; trends in supply, demand, and competitive pricing; and the impacts of new developments on industry, especially in coal and energy supply. Among his many publications were Coal in the Future Energy Market in 1960 and The U.S. Energy Dilemma: The Gap Between Today's Requirements and Tomorrow's Potential in 1973, which were well-respected and frequently referenced. One colleague described him as a brilliant man of “think tank quality” who was always impeccably dressed in well-tailored suits and was respected by everyone at the Survey. In 1967, he became Assistant Chief under John C. Frye.
Risser left the Illinois State Geological Survey in 1973 to rejoin the U.S. Geological Survey, where he had worked in 1971 during a leave of absence. He was made Assistant Director a few months before he died in 1974. His accomplishments were posthumously recognized with the Mineral Economics Award from the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers in 1975. He was also very dedicated to his wife, Sarah, and his two daughters and was an active member in the local Kiwanis Club and a long-time Sunday school teacher at the First United Methodist Church of Urbana.