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Sidney A. Williams

Sidney Arthur Williams was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan on December 26, 1933, the son of Helen Southgate and Edward Watkin Williams, a telephone engineer. His interest in mineralogy blossomed at an early age, thanks to the influence of a neighbor, Clarence Seebaldt, whose father was a mining engineer in Colorado and had assembled an interesting collection.

Sid attended the Michigan College of Mining and Technology (now Michigan Technological University), where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Geology and a Master of Science degree in Mineralogy (1957), with the encouragement of Dr. Edward Kraus. From Michigan he went to the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he earned his PhD in 1962 with a dissertation on "The Mineralogy of the Mildren and Steppe Mining Districts, Pima County, Arizona."

While a student in Arizona Sid met and became good friends with Richard A. Bideaux (q.v.) and Richard Thomssen; they often went field-collecting together, and were so active in this area that for a while they published their own unofficial journal called The Mineral Explorer.

Sid left Arizona in 1960 and returned to Michigan Tech (still with some work to finish on his dissertation) and took the post of Assistant Professor. In 1963 he left the university to work as an exploration geologist in Ely, Nevada. In 1964 he acquired his own two-circle goniometer and began making routine crystal measurements. In 1965 he left Nevada to manage the Research Laboratory for Phelps Dodge Corporation, Western Exploration Office, in Douglas, Arizona, working primarily on copper-molybdenum porphyries. He was allowed to work independently on his own time, so he took occasional consulting jobs and, with his wife and partner, Betty Jo, he began his part-time mineral business, called Globo de Plomo--Spanish for "Lead Baloon!" His company logo was the alchemical symbol for lead, within a baloon-like circle.

In 1980 Sid purchased a Kevex (X-ray fluorescence) unit to do more of his own analyses for his consulting business, while continuing to manage the research laboratory for Phelps Dodge. A few years later he also purchased a new electron microprobe. He eventually retired from Phelps Dodge, but continued to do consulting work periodically until 2005. During his career his exploration work yielded several major discoveries, he was involved in the description of 53 new mineral species, and he published (as author or co-author) over 80 papers on mineralogy and related geology. He was a Fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America, and a member of the Society of Economic Geologists, the Canadian Mineralogical Society, the Mineralogical Society of Japan, and the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain. He was also co-author of all three editions of Mineralogy of Arizona. In 1985 Fabien Cesbron named the new mineral species sidwillite, in recognition of Sid's work on copper–molybdenum porphyries.

Sid Williams died in his home in Douglas, Arizona on December 8, 2006 from lung cancer.

McGLASSON, J. (2007) Died, Sidney A. Williams, 72. Mineralogical Record, 38, 258.
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