Montana Technological University Honors Distinguished Alumni

For over 120 years, Montana Tech has connected focused students to a network of people, opportunities, and experiences that empower them to change the world.

As part of this week's homecoming activities, we have the honor of celebrating a few of our Montana Technological University alumni who have done just that.

James Fraser Petroleum '75, James Tangaro Environmental '88, and Kendell Tholstrom Petroleum '68, Petroleum '71 will receive the Montana Technological University Distinguished Alumni Award.

We salute this year's honorees and invite you to learn more about them.

James Fraser '75
President & CEO, RimRock Oil and Gas

James Fraser '75, President & CEO, RimRock Oil and Gas
James Fraser '75
President & CEO,
RimRock Oil and Gas

Jim has over 40 years of significant upstream experience across the USA and Canada. Jim began his professional career with Marathon Oil Company. He worked for several public companies, most notably over 20 years with Burlington Resources in various management, exploration, operations, and engineering roles, and key successful exploration programs.

Jim was V.P. of Operations for Chesapeake Energy's Southern Division. Following his time at Chesapeake, he was Senior Vice President of Talisman Inc.'s North American Shale Division.

Jim turned to the private sector in 2012, starting his own consulting company working on shale projects across North America, South America, and Europe before becoming co-founder, CEO, and President of private equity-backed RimRock Oil and Gas in 2016. Starting with an entrepreneurial spirit and from ground zero, the RimRock team operates in North Dakota with a corporate office in Denver.

He has been married to his wife, Amy, for over 38 years, and they have four grown children and eight grandchildren.

James Tangaro '88
Refinery Manager, Marathon Petroleum Company

James Tangaro '88 Refinery Manager, Marathon Petroleum Company
James Tangaro '88
Refinery Manager,
Marathon Petroleum Company

James Tangaro is the Refinery Manager for Marathon Petroleum Company's refinery in Anacortes, Washington. He has 32 years of experience in the petroleum industry, progressing through many assignments that led him to manage refineries for the past 9 years. Before the Anacortes assignment, James was the Vice President of the Kenai Refinery, and Director of Business Operations for three refineries and marketing areas. He spent 14 years at a Salt Lake City refinery, where he was an engineer, the Environmental Health and Safety Manager, and the Operations Manager.

James grew up in Butte, Montana, and attended Butte High School and Montana Tech. James married Michele (Riley) Tangaro 35 years ago while she was earning a degree in Accounting from Montana Tech. After they graduated in May 1988, they moved to Lafayette, LA, to start their careers. They have moved seven times since then, but Butte will always be home.

James and Michele have two daughters, Rachel and Ashley, ages 34 and 30.

Kendell V. Tholstrom '68, '71

Kendell V. Tholstrom '68, '71
Kendell V. Tholstrom '68, '71

Kendell (Ken) V. Tholstrom spent 42 years in the petroleum industry in various engineering and management positions with Getty Oil Company, ARCO, and Terra Resources. He was the V.P. and General Manager of Presidio Oil Company for 10 years in Denver, and co-founder and V.P. of American Oil and Gas Company in Denver until it sold to Hess Corporation in 2020.

Ken graduated from Anaconda High School in 1963, where he was student body president and co-captain of the football team. While at Tech, he was the junior class president and named an All-Conference football player for 4 years.

Ken is a member of the Montana Tech Athletic Hall of Fame. He is a great supporter of the university. He has served on the Petroleum Department's Advisory Board, the Montana Tech Foundation Board, and established the Tholstrom Family Endowed Scholarship for Anaconda High School student-athletes.

Ken and his wife Claudia Samuelson are retired and live near Park City, UT. They have 8 children, 31 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandson.