About Black Star


Photo of Charles Hutton
Jim Pryor and Charles Hutton
Successful fishing after successful drilling on the Donley Lease


Photo of Ernie Kirk's Medals
Ernie Kirk's collection of service medals


Tribute To Special Friends and Colleagues

This page is dedicated to special people in the company's history who are no longer with us. I often pause to appreciate the knowledge and experience these men contributed to the growth and evolution of the company, and me. They handled life's ups an downs with grace and dignity. Over the years we celebrated victories and kept failures in perspective. The old fashioned traits of honesty and integrity were at the core of their character, and we should all aspire to their example.

— Jim Pryor

Charles Hutton, Sr.

Photo of Charles Hutton
Charles Hutton and Jim Pryor at the Donley Lease in Anderson County, Kansas

Charles was a drilling contractor and drilled many wells for the company. In later years of our relationship he also became a working interest partner in our projects. In the late 1980s, he recommended I focus on Anderson County, because he saw the potential for meaningful discoveries there. Naturally, I followed his recommendation, which proved to be correct. The first well in Anderson County resulted in the Donley discovery.

Many of his friends called him "Charlie", but I never did. "Charlie" seemed to presumptuously infer I felt I was his equal. Charles had few, if any, equals. I believe a man's worth can be measured by the love and respect his family and friends have for him. By this measure, Charles Hutton was giant even among that rare breed of tall men with kindness and integrity at their core. I often ask myself, "What would Charles do in this situation?"

Earnest Kirk

Photo of Ernie Kirk
Ernie Kirk (sitting) and son, Mike

When I need a dose of inspiration, I think of Ernie Kirk. Here was a man who survived WWII combat at Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima. Statisticly, he was unlikely to return home from these two battles. I think he appreciated that, and never forgot it. I think it molded him in a profound way. Ernie enjoyed both work and play. His wartime experiences taught him that every day was a gift, and he lived each day as though it would be his last. He didn't waste time worrying about things he had no control over, and was not about to let such things spoil his day. His philosophy was that most of today's routine challenges would work themselves out by tomorrow without our help, so why lose sleep over them. Being in my early 30s at the time Ernie was with the company, I worried about everything. I look back on it as my youthful exuberance. Ernie taught me not to waste my energy or my time. He was very good at his profession, which benefitted the company enormously, but it was the way this gentle man with the thundering voice taught me to look at life that was his greatest legacy to me.