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William  Panczner
(1938-    )

William David "Bill" Panczner was born in Schenectady, New York on November 9, 1938, the son of Katherine and William J. Panczner, a ceramic/glass engineer. He grew up in the town of Scotia (across the river from Schenectady), in upper New York State, and became interested in minerals around the age of seven, on his first visit to see the mineral exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History. He began collecting specimens, and a neighborhood woman and Girl Scout leader by the name of Jean Scott identified them for him and gave him a copy of George English's Getting Acquainted with Minerals (1934). Another early mentor was Dr. Katherine Blodgett, an employee at General Electric Research Laboratory where Bill's father worked; she would invite him into her lab and explain to him her many discoveries and inventions (one of which was non-reflective glass, originally nown as Blodgett glass).

In 1956, when he was 17, Bill's family moved to Clearwater, Florida where he graduated from high school the following year. Bill's collection continued to grow, and he began dealing occasionally in minerals at the age of 18.

Bill married Sharon Pulliam in 1961, and she soon came to share his interest in minerals. They moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1962 when Bill was transferred to GE's Computer Division there, and it was in Arizona—a mineral collector's paradise—that Bill was able to field-collect at a great many Southwestern and Mexican localities. He built up his personal mineral collection as well as his dealer stock as he and Sharon traveled all over the state together collecting at the many famous localities. In the process they met and became good friends with Bob Jones and Wayne Thompson--the Wayne Thompson who was the uncle of the Wayne everybody knows today (the younger Wayne was just 8 years old at the time). Bill frequenly collected underground, and holds the distinction of being the only person ever to accidentally set fire to collecting partner Bob Jones' hair and the seat of his pants with a carbide lamp.

Bill and Sharon first displayed their mineral collection (including some competition thumbnails Sharon had received from Vivian Dosse) at the 1962 Tucson Show; at the 1965 show their thumbnails won the award for Best of Show.

Bill was transferred back to the St. Petersburg plant in 1967, and earned his Associate of Arts Degree from St. Petersburg College that same year; he then went on to receive a B.A. Degree in Geology (with a minor in Astronomy) and a B.A in Secondary Education (with a minor in Chemistry) from the University of South Florida in 1971. By then he had worked as a chemist for General Electric for almost 12 years, beginning in 1960; his special field of chemistry there was high-vacuum surface metal migration. After receiving his degree in 1971 he took a position as a high school chemistry teacher in Florida while still working the night shift at GE, and worked both jobs simultaneously for a year before finally leaving GE in 1972.

While they lived in Florida, Bill and Sharon also had a mineral business on the side, called Gulf Coast Minerals and Mining, and had a table at many shows in the Southeast.

In 1974 Bill and Sharon moved to Tucson, Arizona where Bill become the first Curator of Earth Science at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. They closed down their mineral business and sold their mineral stock to Leonard and Bobbie Himes of Minerals America in Orlando before leaving Florida. While at the Desert Museum Bill renewed his happy acquaintance with the mineralogy of the Southwest, served as Director of the Museum's Mexico programs, and began research for a book on the minerals of Mexico.

Bill left the Desert Museum in 1982 and became a full-time mineral dealer under the name of William Panczner & Associates, with the help of his wife Sharon. He began selling from a remodeled garage in his west-side Tucson home. He also worked as a geologist for Rio Tinto Zinc in Mexico, and consulted in the design of several museum, college and nature center facilities. With the outstanding help and support of Sharon, Manny Hecht, Arthur Roe and Miguel Romero, Bill was also able to finish work on his book, and Minerals of Mexico was published in 1987. It remains the most thorough summary of that subject. He has also written Gems and Minerals of Arizona; A Guide to Native Gemstones (1989) (with Sharon), A Traveler's Guide to Tracking Dinosaurs in the Western United States (1995), and a number of articles on minerals and meteorites.

Bill and Sharon divorced in 1987, and Bill moved to the east side of Tucson. His mineral business finally closed when he left Arizona in 1989. He sold the bulk of his mineral collection to help finance the college education of his children, Chris (Geophysics) and Shawna (English and Photography). He is currently teaching high school astronomy in Tampa, Florida, where he is also a Solar System Ambassador for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories. He maintains a small collection of minerals, a growing collection of meteorites, a collection of old mineral labels (inspired by the late Richard Bideaux), and a collection of organ pipes. His current project is research for a book on Alexander von Humboldt.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - William  Panczner Bill Panczner
(Tucson Show 1987)
The Mineralogical Record - William  Panczner 44 x 55 mm,
Tucson address
The Mineralogical Record - William  Panczner 44 x 62 mm,
Tucson address
The Mineralogical Record - William  Panczner 70 x 85 mm,
Tucson address
The Mineralogical Record - William  Panczner 51 x 76 mm,
Personal collection label,
Tucson address
The Mineralogical Record - William  Panczner 36 x 90 mm,
Personal collection label
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