Clarence Gordon Coil was born in Springfield, Missouri on April, 5, 1905, the son of Emma K. and Gordon A. Coil, a house carpenter. Clarence and his family moved from Missouri to Colorado around 1916 and he lived there for the rest of his life. By 1930 Clarence was working as a printer in a photograph shop in Colorado Springs, and he spent the rest of his professional career as a commercial photographer. For example, he took all of the aerial photos that were used to determine the site for the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs.
In his younger years Coil was an avid skier. The first ski area in the Pikes Peak region was established on rented land in 1929 by the "Silver Spruce Ski Club," a group consisting initially of Clarence Coil, Doug Shafer, and John Fowler. They cleared runs of trees and rock outcrops (with the help of rock drilling and bulldozing equipment loaned by Clarence's friend, mineralogist Spencer Penrose) and built a ski-jumping hill.
Coil was a long-time member and past president of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society, and one of Colorado's most prominent and successful field collectors, having prospected and mined for specimens with his partner Orville A. Reese in the Pikes Peak granite for over 48 years. Coil and Reese donated 5,000 square inches of polished Colorado crystal material for use in making some of the outstanding mosaic work at the Air Force Academy Chapel near Colorado Springs.
In the early 1970s, Coil and his son David dug down 27 feet to clean out a huge pocket that yielded the finest known specimens of Colorado goethite. Coil's best-known find was the pocket of large crystals of deep blue amazonite with a selective overgrowth of albite on some faces to gave a "striped" effect to the crystals. Some are associated with snowy white albite, and a few were found with smoky quartz. At the time these had the deepest color and most striking appearance of any amazonite ever found anywhere in the world. Many of the specimens are now in major public and private collections in the U.S. and in Europe. Coil, his son David, and his daughter Barbara were especially proud of their find of two barylite crystals, one of which was donated to the Smithsonian Institution.
Clarence Coil died in Colorado Springs in January of 1978.
U.S. Federal Census, 1920, 1930.
MUNTYAN, B. (1976) Personality sketch: Clarence Coil. Mineralogical Record, 7 (1), 16-17.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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