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Rebecca "Becky" Bird

Rebecca S. "Beckie" Bird, an enthusiastic collector and supporter of mineralogy, was known to a great many people, and was a regular attendee of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show until well into her 90s. She was born on January 16, 1902 in Boston, the daughter of artist and Egyptologist Joseph Lindon Smith (1863-1950) and Corinna Haven Putnam, an author and Islamic scholar; she was also a grand-niece of the geologist and explorer Raphael Pumpelly (1837-1923).

Beckie attended the Windsor School in Boston, and graduated from Westover School in Middlebury, Connecticut. After graduation she attended La Grand Chaumiere School of Art in Paris, before accompanying her father on an artistic tour of the Middle and Far East. They visited the temples at Luxor and Karnak in Egypt, followed by India, Siam, Java and the Temple of Ankor Wat in Cambodia.

An artist herself, her best work was portraiture in soft pencil and sepia. Her subjects were diverse, from Native Americans in Arizona to the leaders of Boston Society, Swiss mountaineers and German street people.

Beckie was married to Frederic Valentine G. Bird (born 1909), also an enthusiastic mineral collector, for 35 years until his death in 1988. They were avid skiers and mountain climbers, and spent many hours together collecting valuable and rare minerals in France, Switzerland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Colorado and Arizona. Together they built a substantial, varied and beautiful collection.

Fred and Beckie divided their year between residences in Ouray, Colorado, and Cabris, France. After Fred's death, Beckie lived in Tucson, where she exhibited specimens each year at the Tucson Show, and enthusiastically supported the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (especially archeological research).

Until failing eyesight limited her activities, Beckie remained an avid field collector, venturing underground down the ladders and shafts of the 79 mine when she was a spry 90 years old. She died in Tucson on July 26, 1996.

MEDIZ, J. (1996) Died, Rebecca "Beckie" Bird. Mineralogical Record, 27, 403.
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