The horizontal directional drilling (HDD) industry lost an icon, just as the New Year was getting under way. Drilling fluids guru-extraordinaire Frank Canon passed away on Jan. 5.
As the HDD industry took off, Canon became the go-to guy when it came to drilling fluids. Though his first priority was to sell drilling fluid for Baroid, he also became an expert trainer and educator of the mud use and recycling to a generation of directional drillers.
His mud schools were must-attend sessions for drillers and his war stories show the depth of how much the industry has grown in the 25 years since he started working in it.
Canon’s job has taken him to drilling sites and training sessions around the world, including South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, China, South America, Europe and Russia.
During the course of his career, Canon has received many accolades for his work in the horizontal directional drilling industry, including being named the 1999 Trenchless Technology Person of the Year, North East Trenchless Association’s Founder’s Award (2010) and induction in to NASTT’s Hall of Fame in 2012. He was also a member of Trenchless Technology’s Drillmaster Advisory Board, contributing many articles on drilling fluid use. He served on the Board of Directors for NASTT and was a reviewer and author of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publications. Canon retired in 2015, but continued in his roles as consultant and mentor. His most recent award was his induction into the HDD Hall of Fame in 2022.
Canon was raised in a loving home in Pearland, Texas. After graduating from Pearland High School in 1965, he attended Sam Houston State University where he earned a degree in Theatre Arts and met his future wife, Mary Ann. On July 19, 1969, the couple married in Plantersville, Texas. Their first son, Barrett Canon, arrived in 1973 followed by Jared Canon in 1977.
In 1975, Frank began work for Baroid as an oilfield mud engineer. He showed up for his first day of work in a lime-green polyester suit, which he soon traded for his trademark red jumpsuit. The family relocated to the Rocky Mountains, where they lived in New Mexico, Wyoming, and then Colorado. When he began with Baroid, Frank had no idea that he was to become a pioneer in the emerging Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) Industry. In 1991 he returned to his roots in Houston, working in the newly established Baroid Industrial Drilling Products Division. By the next year, his role became entirely devoted to trenchless technology execution and education.
In a career spanning over 40 years, Frank solidified legendary status in the HDD industry. In addition to practical expertise put to use in the field, he is remembered as an outstanding educator and mentor. He travelled extensively, training thousands of people a year in the best practices working with drilling fluids. He travelled the country and the globe, working on sites and teaching mud schools on every continent except Antarctica. His teaching style has been described as homespun, humorous, folksy, and memorable.
He was deeply humbled by every professional accolade he received.
Above all, Frank was a loving husband, father, and uncle. He prioritized family always and enjoyed even more time with them in retirement. He treasured the company of all of his family members, encouraged them in their pursuits and adventures, and reveled in his own ability to beat them in games.
Frank is survived by his wife, Mary Ann Canon, sons Barrett Canon (Thera) and Jared Canon, nieces Anne Kish (Don) and Rosie Botkin (Ron), great-nephews Henry Botkin-Henderson and Avery Botkin-Henderson, and great nieces Audrey Kish and Norah Botkin-Henderson, two special schnauzers Seamus and Clancy Canon, and many beloved friends.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Plantersville Baptist Church, PO Box 279, Plantersville, Texas 77363.