Keith Ward Proctor was born in Denver, Colorado on March 17, 1937, the son of Betty and Lyle Proctor, restaurant owners. Before he was 10 his parents moved 35 miles west to what was originally an old mining camp, Idaho Springs, where they opened a restaurant. There Keith started picking over the local mine dumps, collecting galena, pyrite and sphalerite. He remembers local miners bringing jars full of gold nuggets into his parents' restaurant in the 1950s, further stimulating his interest in minerals. Beginning around 1955, Gordon Nedblake in Idaho Springs became his mentor as a mineral collector.
Following high school in 1957, Keith attended the University of Colorado where earned a Bachelor's Degree in Biology, Chemistry and Pharmacy (a triple major, 1962), and a Master's Degree in Molecular Biology in 1964. He then taught high school in Frisco, Colorado, where he helped establish a science club for the students.
By the late 1960s Keith was already collecting very high-quality mineral specimens. In 1967 Keith married Mauna Allen, and she has been his partner in mineral collecting ever since. Mauna had taught English as a foreign language for several years before, and was teaching at the University of Colorado when they met in 1967. They have two daughters, Mariah and Brook.
In the 1970s Keith established a gem and mineral import business and began designing his own jewelry pieces. He focused at first on gems from Brazil, Asia and Tanzania, always keeping an eye out for fine crystal specimens as well. When traveling about to mineral shows or to see customers he always carried a fat, soft-sided suitcase packed with fine mineral specimens in individual boxes.
In 1980 Keith and Mauna traveled to Brazil together and acquired a large and very extraordinary red tourmaline crystal with cleavelandite, measuring 40 cm and weighing 27 kg; it had come from the spectacular 1978-1979 find at the Jonas mine, Itatiaia, and was one of the three best of that find ever brought into the United States. Eventually nicknamed "the Rose of Itatiaia," it became the signature piece of his growing world-class collection, and he regularly displayed it at major mineral shows for many years. He has been a regular exhibitor at the Denver and Tucson shows, and has won the McDole Trophy an unprecedented three times (1974, 1979 and 1986). His collection was featured three times (1977, 1983 and 1985) at the Munich Show, where "the Rose" won the Viktor Goldschmidt Prize. Specimens from his collection, which now numbers about 900 pieces, have appeared as illustrations in 40 different books and magazines. Although "the Rose" has since been sold (to a collector in Qatar), Keith acquired a large and spectacular Sweet Home mine rhodochrosite which now serves as his most prominent possession and holds down the center of his gorgeously colorful exhibit case at major shows.
Keith continued his travels, visiting Brazil many times over the years and seeing many of the world's great gem mines. In 1983 he began publishing a five-part series of articles in Gems and Gemology, describing the great gem localities of Brazil. In 1988 he issued a videotape showing much of "The Proctor Collection," and in 2002 he produced an educational videotape as a "Buyer's Guide to Building a Fine [Mineral] Collection." He has also given slide lectures on gem and mineral mining in Brazil at various shows and symposia.
Now in his retirement, he and Mauna serve as church service missionaries for the Mormon Church in Colorado, after having spent two years doing missionary work together in Spain; they currently do service work with prisoners at the Federal Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado. They have donated over 750 display-quality mineral specimens to the Geology Museum of Brigham Young University-Idaho, to help inspire upcoming geology students with the beauty of minerals.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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