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Rustam Kothavala
(1934-    )

Rustam Zal "Rusty" Kothavala was born in Bangalore, India, on September 5th, 1934, the son of Gulbanu and Zal Kothavala (a PhD in Dairy Science, and "Dairy Advisor to the Government of India" when he retired in 1952). Rusty grew up in Bangalore and started collecting minerals from the gravel in his uncle's driveway in 1945—it was a passion that remained with him for much of the rest of his life. He attended Christian College and Presidency College in Madras, India, graduating in 1955 with a degree in Chemistry. He then took a job with Lever Brothers in Bombay while spending his free time collecting zeolites in local quarries.

In 1957 Rusty was accepted into the Master's program at the University of Arizona; he arrived in New York City from India on January 10th, aboard the S.S. America, and traveled on to Tucson, where he studied mineralogy under Dr. John Anthony, and became acquainted with Tucson collector Richard Bideaux. After receiving his Master's Degree he moved on to Harvard to pursue his doctoral studies under Robert Garrels. He graduated from Harvard in 1964 with a PhD in Geological Sciences. Rusty joined the Harvard faculty as a protege and colleague of Clifford Frondel and Cornelius Hurlbut, among others. His Nat Sci 10 course —"Rocks for Jocks"—was highly popular. He also became an administrative dean and was awarded tenured status in 1969.

Rusty married his best friend of five years, Suzanne, in 1963. They had a daughter Laura, but separated two years later. In 1972 he resigned his university position to go into the mineral business full-time, calling his company "Crystals of India." He became widely known and respected for his fine Indian minerals, and supplied many superb specimens to private collectors and museums. He also began dabbling in real estate, an enthusiasm he still pursues, founding a self-contained gay community housing compound in Oakland, California. After 20 years in the mineral business he retired from dealing in 1993.

Rusty, now 73, is the patriarch of a growing clan of younger relatives in India, where he resides for a month or two each year, in part to tend his property and business interests there. In the United States, he manages assets in Arizona, Hawaii, and California, collected at least in part since his days as a mineral dealer. He lives most of the year (when he isn't in India or visiting new locations around the world) in Tucson with his life-mate, Toby Marotta, a 1967 Harvard College graduate, with whom he became acquainted in Lowell House at Harvard. Marotta is a Ph.D. sociologist and urban anthropologist. They moved from Cambridge to California in 1976 and lived there until moving in 1994 to Tucson, where they had earlier purchased a house. After living together for 30 years, Rusty and Toby were married officially on June 19, 2003, in Woodstock, Vermont (under that state's two-year-old Civil Union law).

Rusty has written a number of articles reflecting on his mineralogical experiences. In 1983 he won the Most Valuable Article Award from Gems & Gemology for his article on "Kashmir Sapphire." For the Mineralogical Record he wrote "The discovery of powellite at Nasik, India" (1982), "The Wagholi cavansite locality near Pune, India" (1991), and most recently his personal memoirs about his life in minerals: "Recollections of mineral collecting and dealing in India" (2003). He still maintains a mineral collection, although some of his favorite pieces were destroyed in a house fire in 2005.

American Men and Women of Science, A biographical directory of today's leaders in physical, biological, and related sciences. (1971-1973) 12th edition, Physical & Biological Sciences. Seven volumes. New York: R.R. Bowker.
KUMAR, A. (2004) A gem of a life. Trikone Magazine, March 2004.
KOTHAVALA, R.Z. (2003) Recollections of mineral collecting and dealing in India. Mineralogical Record, 34, 135-154.
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The Mineralogical Record - Rustam Kothavala Rusty Kothavala
Tucson Show, 1979
The Mineralogical Record - Rustam Kothavala 38 x 77 mm
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The Mineralogical Record - Rustam Kothavala 34 x 51 mm
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