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Thurston M.  Phetteplace
(1912-1995)

Thurston Mason Phetteplace, Jr., was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on April 27, 1912, the son of Kate Ella Hay and Thurston M. Phetteplace, Sr. -- a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Brown University; he died in 1913, at age 36, when his son was just one year old.

Thurston Jr. began collecting minerals about the time that he entered college at Brown. His personal label for his specimen no. 58 (an apatite from Maine) carries the notation: "Personally collected - about 1929." Judging by the very low number and the fact that it was self-collected, suggests that this was amongst the earliest specimens in his collection, begun ca. 1929.

Thurston Jr. received his PhB in Geology from Brown University in 1933 and became an Assistant Professor of Geology and Mining Engineering there. He married Anne May Weir (1915-2002), and they had one son, James. Apparently the teaching job was not to his liking, for he moved to New York City in the late 1930s. In 1940 he was working as a reservation clerk for an airline company in New York City.

Phetteplace then moved to Washington State in the 1940s. In 1949, as part of the USGS Strategic Minerals Program, Phetteplace helped map the magnesite belt in Stevens County, Washington. Ultimately he earned his Master's Degree in Geology at the University of Washington in 1954; his thesis was on the "Geology of the Chesaw area, Okanogan County, Washington" (82 p.). He is known to have purchased specimens from Ed McDole in Butte in the late 1950s.

Phetteplace became a well-known mineral dealer in the 1950s, having started his business in Colorado, and then split his time between homes there and in Arizona. He was living in Grand Junction, Colorado, from 1956 to 1961, working as a geological engineer for the Atomic Energy Commission. (His brother Richard was a metallurgical engineer there.) He moved to Phoenix in 1961 when he was hired by the Arizona Minerals Branch of the Bureau of Land Management, and assigned to operations in the Gunsight and Comobabi mining districts. He was still living there in 1980, and also had a home in Lakewood, Colorado, in the 1970s.

Phetteplace lived his later years in Prescott, Arizona, and died in Multnomah County, Oregon, on October 31, 1995, at the age of 83. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the mountains of Colorado.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Thurston M.  Phetteplace Thurston Phetteplace (college photo, 1933)
The Mineralogical Record - Thurston M.  Phetteplace 51 x 82 mm; Carnegie Museum of Natural History collection, CM-33877.
The Mineralogical Record - Thurston M.  Phetteplace
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