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Mike Groben

Millard "Mike" Morley Groben was born on July 4, 1928, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Pauline Marie Morley and Millard Franklin Groben, a salesman. By 1940 they had moved to Lower Saucon (Philadelphia area), Pennsylvania, and by 1946 to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Mike attended Bethlehem High School (in those days his nickname was "Bud"), spending his summers working for the U.S. Forest Service as a fire fighter in the Coeur D'Alene National Forest. He was also on his high school's wrestling and track teams, but in his high school yearbook it says that "Natural history seems to be his favorite diversion."

Mike's Uncle Will, a chief forester in Washington, D.C., took him for a visit to the Smithsonian Institution, and upon seeing the Mineral Hall Mike was immediately stricken with a new passion. Back home in Pennsylvania he started collecting minerals at nearby localities. Mike went on to earn a BS degree in Forestry from Pennsylvania State College in 1951, followed by an MS in Logging Engineering at the University of Washington in 1953.

After graduation Mike worked as a forester for the Harbor Plywood Corporation in southwestern Washington State until 1962. There he met Elizabeth Louise "Betsy" Gentemann, a worker in the same office, and they were married in 1957. Mike and Betsy then moved to Arcata, California, where he took a job with the Twin Harbors Lumber Company, cruising tracts. He also served as area manager for Capella Operations in Ukiah, California, until 1962, when they moved to Coos Bay, Oregon. In Coos Bay he worked as timber manager, forester, and joist manager for the Coos Head Timber Company.

While on the job in 1967, Mike suffered a fall that broke his back, leaving him paralyzed below the waist. He remained with Coos Head Timber Company until 1995, when the company was dissolved. He then worked as a consultant for other logging firms until 2001 when he suffered a stroke.

Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Mike was always in attendance at the Tucson and Denver shows over a 30-year period. Leicht (2015) wrote of him:

"Always upbeat and interested to know the latest happenings in the mineral world, Mike assembled a fine collection from such dealers as Walt Lidstrom, Julius Zweibel, Gene Schlepp, Wayne Leicht, Bill Larson, John Veevaert, and others who have come and gone during Mike's collecting years. He had a special interest in zeolites, and certainly Oregon is well known for its prolific zeolite localities."

Mike and his family collected brecciated basalt which they sold to Ward's Natural Science Establishment, and he traded specimens with other collectors, dealers, and museums around the world.

Mike was active in community affairs: the Rotary Club, the Coos Art Museum, the Southwestern Community College, and the Coos Foundation, among others. He enjoyed working with young people and always served as a judge of the 4-H displays at the Coos County Fair. He was also a founding member of the Friends of Mineralogy, and helped organize the annual Northwest Mineral Symposium. For many years he served as a consulting editor for Rocks & Minerals, and was instrumental in organizing FM volunteers to create the 14-year index and later the 25-year index of the Mineralogical Record. The Mike Groben Scholarship, established in 2011 by his friends and business associates, is awarded each term to a student at Southwestern Oregon Community College who has overcome adversity in their life.

Mike Groben died on October 30, 2015, survived by his wife of 57 years, Betsy, his sons Scott and Ross, daughter Elizabeth, four grandchildren, and his sister, Judith (Groben) Chypre. He is buried in Coos Bay.

LEIGHT, D. L. (2016) In Memoriam: Millard "Mike" Morley Groben (1928-2015). Rocks & Minerals, July-August.
US Federal Census Records.
Bethlehem High School Yearbook, 1946.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Mike Groben High School Yearbook 1946
The Mineralogical Record - Mike Groben Tucson Show 1977
The Mineralogical Record - Mike Groben Tucson Show 1979
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