Albert Camille Ordway was born in Los Angeles, California on August 28, 1935, the son of Marie Louise Bouckaert and Albert Joseph Ordway. He attended school in Alhambra (a Los Angeles suburb), and first got interested in minerals during a school field trip to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. He served in the Army from 1954 to 1957 and later attended Pasadena City College on the GI Bill. During his studies at PCC he became a confirmed mineral collector while studying Geology under H. Stanton Hill, and becoming a member of the Dana Club. He joined the Mineralogical Society of Southern California in 1959/60 and often exhibited specimens from his collection in their annual shows.
Al worked for 30 years as a transportation engineer for the California Highway Department. He married Elizabeth (Betty) Ann Hine and they lived in Bloomington, California for 25 of those years, until his retirement in 1995, at which time they moved to Hesperia, California north of San Bernardino. There he continued his part-time mineral business (Ordway's Mnerals) which he had started in Bloomington. He spent most of his spare time in the field, and probably did a few mineral shows just for the opportunity to meet other collectors and to socialize more than to make money.
Al's main interest was always pegmatites, and he may have dug in more of the pegmatites in San Diego and Riverside Counties than any other collector. Early on he was one of Josephine Scripps' surrogate diggers. Josie could not dig much herself, but she had money and made it possible for certain young collectors to dig in various pegmatites in Southern California and Baja California. He worked the La Verde pegmatite near La Huerta in Baja and dug what may be the largest danburite crystals yet found in a pegmatite. Josie also had the claim on the Blue Chihuahua pegmatite in Riverside County and Al got some very nice hydroxyl-heredities from there. For a short time Al leased the Katerina Pegmatite and dug some kunzite there. In later years he mentored and collected with Jon Page and they found some fine specimens of hydroxyl-herderite at the Green Cloud mine in Chihuahua Valley in San Diego County. Al also collected in Tasmania, and at the epidote locality at Prince of Wales Island in Alaska. Topaz Mountain in Utah and the barites of the Book Cliffs near Grand Junction were also favorites.
In the summer of 1980 Bob Bartsch staked some claims on pegmatites near Crystal Creak, near Lake George Colorado. Al asked for and received permission to dig on Bob's claims, and recovered a fabulous pocket of amazonite and quartz crystals. He was always a superb craftsman when it came to cleaning and repairing specimens, and he reassembled some amazonite pieces from that pocket into some world-class specimens, one of which ended up in the Sorbonne museum in Paris and on the cover of a poster.
Over the years Al's mineral collection continued to improve; he won the Gus Meister Trophy in 2000 and the Hyman Savanar Trophy in 2005 for a morganite-and-quartz specimen from the Cryo-Genie mine in San Diego County, California. Al also wrote various articles for publication (including some "Mineral Stories" and an article on the Jensen quarry for the Mineralogical Record in 1984).
Al and his wife were happily married for 48 years and had three children, seven grandchildren and a growing number of great-grandchildren. He died of a heart attack on September 30, 2007, while digging rocks at Soda Lake near Taft, California. He was trying to find crystals of blödite, one of the few minerals in the Southwest that had managed to elude him during his life as a mineral collector.
CURRIER, R.H. (2008) Died, Al Ordway, 72; in Notes from the Editors. Mineralogical Record, 39, 84-85.
LEICHT, D. (2008) In memoriam: Albert Ordway (1935-2007). Rocks & Minerals, 83 (2), 178.
Social Security Death Index.
California Birth Index.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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Bloomington address (1970-1995)