Herman Bodson was born in Belgium on December 21, 1912, the son of Alida and Fernand Bodson, an architect, and earned a Doctor of Science degree in Physical Chemistry from the University of Brussells. He was also very close to also acquiring a Master's Degree in Mineralogy (lacking only some lab hours). When World War II came he was drafted into the Medical Corp, and soon entered the Resistance. With his background in chemistry, Bodson became an expert in explosives and sabotage, leading a group of fighters that blew up military trains and installations (including a bridge whose destruction killed some 600 German soldiers), cut German communication lines, and rescued downed American fliers. While on a mission for Allied Intelligence he was among those who were trapped in Bastogne, where he cared for wounded American soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded numerous Belgian ribbons for participation in WWII, and in the European Resistance, including the British Kings Medal for courage in the cause of freedom, and the US Medal of Freedom for having saved the lives of 17 downed American fliers.
After the war Bodson founded and directed a stone quarry for a while, then returned to Brussells where he worked for the Union Chimique Belge in the pharmaceutical expansion department. In August of 1947 he met Catherine ("Tinca"), and she became his wife in June of 1948-- they had three children together: daughters Claude and Claire and son John.
In 1951 Herman and his family moved to the Belgian Congo (later Zaire) where Herman served as "Directeur du Bureau Bia" at Elizabethville, in the mineral rich province of Katanga. It was there that he became acquainted with the Belgian geologist and mineral dealer Gilbert Gauthier (q.v.). Bodson purchased a collection of uranium minerals from Gauthier around 1957-1958 (but didn't actually pay for them until 20 years later!).
In June 1960 the Belgian Congo achieved independence, and the following political unrest forced the Bodsons to move to Rhodesia. In 1961 they emmigrated to America, where they settled in Stow, Ohio. For the first two years Herman supported his family as a mineral dealer (Intercontinental Minerals), but eventually he was forced by necessity to find regular work, and took a teaching job, though he had never taught before. In 1963 he became a science teacher at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio. There he taught physics, geology and astronomy, and started a course (without a textbook) on Physical Environment. He also taught Algebra and Economic Geography. He became a naturalized citizen in 1966.
In September-October 1973 he advertised in the Mineralogical Record to sell his personal collection of worldwide minerals, including 1,500 display specimens and 2,500 study-grade specimens, for a minimum offer of $8,000. Since the ad did not repeat, it is likely that the collection sold promptly. William Pinch purchased the Congo uranium minerals, and many of the other specimens were purchased by Ward's Natural Science Establishment.
In June of 1978 Herman and his wife retired to Taos, New Mexico.
He wrote an autobiographical work, Agent for the Resistance: A Belgian Saboteur in World War II (2003), and also Downed Allied Airmen and Evasion of Capture: The Role of Local Resistance Networks in World War II, a work which is now required reading at the Air Force Academy. Bodson died in Taos on December 28, 2001.
American Men & Women of Science. A biographical directory (12th, 13th and 14th editions).
Taos News memorials: Herman Bodson (December 1, 1991).
KING, V. (2007) Personal communication.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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