The drilling industry in January lost a tireless and passionate advocate for the trade. Howard “Porky” Cutter, a colorful character, driller and longtime National Driller columnist, passed away Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 at home. He was 80.
“Porky was just a character,” says son Chris “Piglet” Cutter. “He was always fun, never got upset. He was always just Porky, and he’d draw people to him like a magnet.”
Mr. Cutter was active in the industry, and was the fourth person to achieve the National Ground Water Association’s prestigious Master Ground Water Contractor (MGWC) certification in 1983.
“He was proud of that,” says son Randy Cutter.
Piglet Cutter says Porky treated his MGWC status as a badge of honor and respect. “He always told people that was the only real degree that a driller could get that showed that he had the knowledge and the ability and the experience to do water drilling. You couldn’t go to college and get anything.”
Porky was a second-generation driller in both oil & gas and water well drilling, having learned a lot of the trade from his father, Ellis Earl “Porky” Cutter. He was a native of Oklahoma, living most of his childhood near Covington and spending time also in Marshal and Enid. He founded Cutter & Dad Drilling Company after leaving the Marshal area. All told, Porky served the drilling industry for more than six decades. And he inspired others to do the same.
“It was Porky’s life. He’d eat, drink, sleep, well drilling — not just water well drilling, but all drilling,” Piglet Cutter says. “He was one of those who could to sleep with a question in his mind, and wake up with the answer.”
He added that Porky “built and sold his first drill rig at 15.”
Following the death of his father, Mr. Cutter moved to Virginia Beach, Va., and formed Drilling Consultants International (DCI) to teach the trade of water well drilling to students around the world. DCI was formed together with his wife, Bess, and Chris “Piglet” Cutter.
Bess Cutter recalls urging Porky into paid consulting after he retired. “He was always on the phone with some of the other drillers from around the world … solving their problems. If they had a drilling problem, they called Porky as to what to do about it.”
And Porky was diligent about spreading his knowledge around as best he could, teaching students eager to learn the trade both abroad and right here in the United States. Asked how many students Porky taught over the years, Piglet confidently says “hundreds.”
“He did the continuing education points for many states, which I was involved with, mom was involved with. He was the go-to guy; he was the expert.”
The family says he was a major advocate of both education and honest, straightforward business practices.
“Through all of his life,” Bess says, “but especially once he started really teaching and instructing, he was always talking and telling all the drillers to be ethical in what they were doing. Because it wasn’t about the money. It’s not with well drillers. … Let your word be your bond. Once you had those ethics and that got out there, you had no competition.”
He also leaves behind some important advice for drillers.
“His biggest thing was, never lose your driller’s license,” Piglet says. “Whatever you’ve got to do, keep your driller’s license. Even if you’re not going to be drilling anymore, keep your driller’s license, because then you can go site set, you can do anything. He was always adamant about never losing your driller’s license.”
“And get your Master,” Bess adds.
The family, Piglet says, is honoring Porky by continuing the business he started so many years ago.
“DCI is still doing what they’ve been doing for years — his company. We’re still giving the continuing education points. Randy’s going to be involved with DCI. We just want to make sure everyone knows DCI is, it’s big shoes to fill, but we’ve been doing it so far.”
Mr. Cutter is survived by his wife, Bessie (Bess) Mackie-Cutter; sons Randall (Randy) Cutter of Norfolk, Va., and Chris “Piglet” Cutter of Virginia Beach, Va.; and grandsons Randall Cutter Jr. and Howard Anthony Cutter, both of Hickory, N.C.
Porky was preceded in death by his parents and infant daughter, Cindy Lynn Cutter.
Services were held at Unity Church of Tidewater in mid-February. Donations can be made to the Cutter family’s charity, which serves groundwater needs in developing countries like Haiti. Mail donations to Groundwater International Solutions, 800 Dryden St, Virginia Beach, VA 23462.