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Marion Stuart

Marion Stuart, one of Idaho's best known mineral collectors was born Marion Elinor Butler in Spokane, Washington, on December 21, 1921, the daughter of Ruth Marion Bryant and Paul Brett Butler, a Nevada rancher. Marion graduated from Mills College in California and the Juilliard School of Music in New York. She also did post-graduate work at Columbia University, the University of Washington (Seattle) and the University of California at Los Angeles, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of law from Pepperdine University.

Marion purchased her first mineral specimen in 1967, a Bisbee azurite from Gary Hansen for $8; she and her husband, wealthy cattle rancher Elbridge Hadley Stuart, Jr. (1917-2009), heir to the Carnation Milk Products fortune (founded by Elbridge Amos Stuart in 1899), began collecting minerals and attended the first Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in 1970. For the next three decades they were regular attendees at major mineral shows around the world. To house their growing collection they built a two-story building dubbed the Diamond Dragon Museum (named after their ranch) in Bellevue, Idaho, and occasionally opened it for private viewings.

For many years she hosted a formal dinner for an ever-changing "guest list" of important personages and friends at the annual Tucson Show. She provided support to the Natural History Museum of Idaho State University, served on the Alliance Foundation of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, was the first woman elected to that Museum's Board of Governors, and made substantial contributions to the development of the E, Hadley Stuart Hall of Gems and Minerals there (named after her husband). She funded specimen purchases and mineralogical research at the Smithsonian Institution for many years, and Pete Dunn (with Donald Peacor and Darko Sturman) named the new Franklin mineral species marsturite in her honor in 1978. She was also instrumental in reopening the La Brea Tarpits in Los Angeles, and served on the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution.

Marion Stuart died July 26, 2000, in Hailey, Idaho. Their collection was sold in December of that year.

HANSEN, G. R. (2001) In memoriam: Marion Butler Stuart (1921-2000). Rocks & Minerals, 76 (5), 421.
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