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William L. Hiss

William Louis "Bill" Hiss was born in Great Bend, Kansas, on February 8, 1931, the son of Rosa and William Hiss, a farmer. Rough times during the Great Depression made a lasting impression on him. He left the family farm determined to make a go of it, and talked his way into his first job, building a bridge as part of a construction crew. Through grit and determination he was later able to get into college. He had great respect for those that struggled against adversity, and gave generously to those that he felt deserved some extra help.

Bill graduated from Kansas State University in 1953, with a degree in Geology. He entered the Air Force in 1953, was trained as a meteorologist at Texas A&M, and served as a weather reconnaissance officer at Burtonwood R.A.F. Station in Warrington, England. After leaving the Air Force in 1957, he joined the reserves, where he was promoted to the rank of Major. He received an M.S. in Geology from the University of Oklahoma in 1960, studying ferromagnesian minerals in the basic igneous intrusive rocks in the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma. He completed his doctoral dissertation on ground water in Permian Guadalupian aquifer systems in southeastern New Mexico and western Texas at the University of Colorado in 1975. He then joined the U.S. Geological Survey in Albuquerque, New Mexico and subsequently transferred to Menlo Park, California, where he worked as a hydrologist/geologist for almost 20 years. In collaboration with others, he developed a large number of computer applications used to store and analyze data on groundwater resources in New Mexico and west Texas, primarily for modeling the Capitan Reef and a variety of hydro-geologic applications and complex groundwater systems. After leaving the Survey, he embarked on a new career as a stockbroker.

Bill was a member of the Northern California Geological Society, the Geological Society of America, the Mineralogical Society of America, and the Berkeley Camera Club, where he won several awards for photographs of his travels to exotic places. He loved ballroom dance and he collected minerals and crystals and books from around the world. He was the founder of the William Hiss Award for "Creativity in the Earth Sciences" at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he received his PhD.

Bill died April 11, 2006, in Villa de Antofagasta de la Sierra, Catamarca, Argentina. At the time of his death, he was participating in a field trip to study the geology of the Chilean volcanics. He died of natural causes "on the outcrop." He will be remembered fondly by his friends and family for his intellect, his good humor, his love of natural science, his gracious manner and warm conversation, his judgment on wines and his love of animals.

Bill alleged that he had sold three mineral collections. I know of two, one recent and one in the 1950s; the 1950s collection was sold for him by fellow graduate student John Watson of Fallbrook, California. That 1950s collection was the result of field collecting in the UK when that was still possible. He spent many days slogging through wet mines and collecting classic minerals. In fact, he shipped about a ton of specimens home as "household goods," courtesy of the US Air Force, in 1957. He resumed mineral collecting with great vigor after he retired from securities brokerage early in the 2000s. Armed with handsome option payouts, he assembled a mineral collection valued at nearly a million dollars in the space of three years (it has since been dispersed).

Adapted from: WATSON, J. (2006) Died, William Hiss, 75 [obituary]. Mineralogical Record, 37 (6), 500.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - William L. Hiss William L. Hiss
The Mineralogical Record - William L. Hiss 52 x 76 mm
The Mineralogical Record - William L. Hiss 52 x 77 mm; [continued text on the back:] "...a Mr. W. F. Davidson of Penrith who is a mineral dealer and exporteR." Dated February 1957.
The Mineralogical Record - William L. Hiss 47 x 67 mm
The Mineralogical Record - William L. Hiss 40 x 67 mm; DATED ON THE BACK, 8/14/1957
The Mineralogical Record - William L. Hiss 52 x 77 mm
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