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A fifty year history of the Tucson show.

Posted by James Spann  
James Spann April 03, 2008 08:02PM
Go grab your 50 year history book and let's talk about some of the fun people and stuff in there. I have been slowly meeting a number of the people in the book and wonder at some that I never hear about.
Does anyone know if some of the names below are still active or around at shows anymore?

1980's list ( 1980-1989 ) .. It wasn't that long ago, but I don't recognize many of the names. Does anyone know if these folks are still active and what stories are there that earned them a spot in this special issue? I would love to know more about them. Let's keep the unkind comments off of here, just in case someone has a beef with anyone.

Ken and Betty Roberts
Julian Blakely
Paul and Hilda Seel
Charles and Marcelle Weber
Carolyn Wilson
Harvey Gordon
Tony Potucek
Bruce Runner
Mark Feinglos
Kery and Edy Siber
Kay Robertson
Hilde and Milt Sclar
Barbara and Forrest Cureton
Rosemary Saunders
Gus Meister
Bill Henderson
Stan Lesnick
Cyril Kovac
Bill Schneider
David New
Art Roe
John Parnau
William Metropolis
Benny and Elva Fenn
Michel Jouty
Adrianna and Renato Pagano
David Shannon
Alfredo Ferri
John Shannon
Alain Carion
Chuck Turley
Pete Olson
Tony Otero
Wendy Melanson
Chris Pfaff
Sandy Ludlum
Dwight Weber
Sharon Cisneros
Rustam Kothavala
Peter Keller
Paul Clifford
Alvao Lucio
David Von Bargen April 03, 2008 08:48PM
Kay Robertson - see profile in March/April 2007 Min Rec
Sharon Cisneros - Mineralogical Research Co. - mindat advertiser
David Shannon - deceased, Arizona mineral dealer
Barbara and Forrest Cureton - rare mineral dealers - sold out to excalibur minerals
William Metropolis - recently left Harvard Museum as curator.
Alain Carion - French mineral dealer
Harvey Gordon - Nevada mineral dealer - Zapot pegmatite

Art Roe see:

Frank & Wendy Melanson recently sold Hawthorneden.
Charles and Marcelle Weber - Mt Ste Hilaire micromounters are both deceased.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/03/2008 09:01PM by David Von Bargen.
Jesse Fisher April 03, 2008 08:49PM
A lot of them are still around, some, however, are not. Betty Roberts passed away a number of years ago. Ken is now married to Rosemany Saunders. Michel Jouty and Alain Carrion both recently passed away. Rusty Kothavala, once a top importer of Indian zeolites is now out of the business. Sharon Cisneros is still in business (Mineralogical Research Company) but has had some bad health and doesnt get around as much.
James Spann April 03, 2008 10:37PM
Thanks Jesse. I have spent a lot of time going through this publication and often wondered why I didn't hear their names, or stories regarding their adventures. I think that the people make the business and wanted to learn more about their contributions back in the 80's.
Just sentimental and curious.
Justin Zzyzx April 03, 2008 11:33PM

Benny and Elva Fenn live in Los Crucas NM. They are the best, at just about every Marty show, major importers of Mexican minerals and Benny is the one who made the big score of mind blowing Mimetites from Mexico in the 60's. Benny now imports most all of the Rasberry Garnets, Smithsonite and gem grade yellow labradorite you see.

Sharon Cisneros and her husband Gene live in the San Francisco area and they are people after my own heart, selling radioactives and asbestos. =) They focus on a more scientific approch to mineral sales and I LOVE that. Plus, Sharon's mineral display cases are TOO GOOD. She has suites of minerals from all kinds of crazy regions of the world in her collection.

You didn't meet Harvey Gordon at the Westward Look show? He was one of the dealers. Him and Lithosphere teamed up and they were going to be at the Dallas show, but they dropped out.

Kay Robinson is awesome. She would always come to the Culver City show and browse around. I would end up talking to her for at least an hour, but that's pretty much how it goes with her. Don't get me wrong, I could chat with her for HOURS. She is a treasure chest of knowlege.

You might have meet Adrianna and Renato Pagano at the main show at least. They are the italian couple who helps at the ROCKS AND MINERALS! booth, and they are the Italian wing of the Mineralogical Record. Gems.

I never meet Tony Ortaro, but I always wanted to. He was the guy in charge of the Kelly mine. Smithsonite, woohoo. He passed away a short while ago.

Gus Meister was a major member of the M.S.S.C. and ran the Pasadena show for several years. I've talked to him several times, but he is old enough now to deserve not to hear from the likes of me. His daughter is/was? also very active in the M.S.S.C. I don't know now, cause I haven't seen a MSSC bulletin in over a year.

Go to the Mineralogical Record's website and they have the coolest biography section ever.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/2008 08:44AM by Justin Butt.
Joseph Freilich April 04, 2008 12:17AM
Hi is a few...regards, Joe

Hilde and Milt Sclar : Firm of Oceanside Imports, active in the 60's
William Metropolis : Curator, American Museum Of nat History, NY.
Michel Jouty: French Mineral Dealer
Adrianna and Renato Pagano : The famous and immortal Italian dealer
David Shannon...R.I.P.... Dealer, died too young
Wendy Melanson: Frank Melanson, Hawthorneden Minerals, Wife
Rustam Kothavala : Most famous Indian Mineralogist, brought out the deep green apop's in the 80"s
Peter Keller: Director at G.I.A.
Joseph Freilich April 04, 2008 12:19AM
William Metropolis : Curator, American Museum Of nat History, NY.

sorry, an error....left Harvard, now at Stacks In New York City....Joe
Malcolm Southwood April 04, 2008 02:02AM
Cyril Kovac is still an active mineral dealer based here in Melbourne, Australia. As a matter of fact I spent a very pleasant morning yesterday with Cyril going through some of his mineral stock. I think its a few years since he's been to Tucson, but he's a great bloke, an honest dealer, and a good friend.
James Spann April 04, 2008 03:12AM
Thanks everyone, so far this has been quite enlightening.
Malcolm, you will have to tell Cyril that you expect his ears were burning?
Glad to hear he is doing well and has friends like you to keep his good name going!
Ray Hill April 04, 2008 08:21AM
Cyris is first rate in my books, since he couldn't be in town when I was, he put me onto 3 collectors to catch up with, including Malcolm. Now that is a fine fellow, as there was no profit in it for him, but he still helped out...
James Spann April 04, 2008 04:11PM
I like to see how people "touch" other people's lives. I have had a number of private emails telling me how so and so mentored them, etc. People in the 50 year book influenced so many, including us just by the stories we have read, the cabinets of minerals displayed and the camaraderie they shared. It inspired us to enter our first case of minerals in Tucson.
Looking through the many photos I have seen Evan Jones grow up ( If one ever considers Evan to BE a grownup! ha ha! )
I have seen the evolution of the shows, the growth as well as the end of the Desert Inn. ( I have heard amazing stories, both good and bad, about that hotel! )
I am so glad that the MinRec decided to compile all that info and offer it to us all. Many people paved the way for the great success we see at the shows now.
I know many of you have been around for a long time, I love to hear your stories of racous behavior, silly jokes and amusing tattle telling. This is a hobby/industry like no other!
Donald Peck April 04, 2008 06:28PM
Gail, Paul Seel is deceased. I am not sure about Hilda, but I think that she is gone also.
James Spann April 04, 2008 07:47PM
Oh, how sad Donald. They looked like such an interesting couple and I wondered what their story was. I figured a number of the people in the book are gone, but am hoping to hear some of their history and contributions.
Thanks for letting me know.
Dona Leicht May 31, 2008 08:36PM
Hi Gail...

I stumbled upon this thread today - I can tell you about everyone on the list since I keep in touch with most of them (except those deceased, but some would say I talk to the dead most of the time). When I see you I'll bring you up to date on all of them. Springfield perhaps?
Ed Godsey May 31, 2008 09:07PM
Gail, many if not most of them are probably included in the biographies section on the MR website, but I note that Harvey Gordon, for one is not listed.
Michael D. Cline May 31, 2008 11:17PM

Alain Carion passed away recently? I had done much business with him during the Tucson show this year, and exchanged emails for several weeks afterwards. Do you have any more information? I searched the web and could find no information on his death. Thanks!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/31/2008 11:26PM by Michael D. Cline.
Ian Merkel May 31, 2008 11:23PM
Hey Justin,

Tony Otero was a super man. I only met him once, in 2001. I collected at the Nitt Mine dumps (I believe that was the name) that he was tending. I paid $5 and he guaranteed me minerals or I could select a $5 rock form his little shop. When I returned from the dumps (accessed with a 1984 Volvo wagon, which he laughed when he saw because of the bad ass road) with nice specimens of smithsonite, he still insisted I take a $5 specimen from him. We talked for an hour or so about the old days of collecting and he let me see some of his absolutely wonderful smithsonite cabinet specimens. I have thought about him many times since that day.

Alfredo Petrov May 31, 2008 11:54PM
Michael, I saw Alain Carion, looking cheerful and healthy, at the Osaka show less than 4 weeks ago! Perhaps, as Mark Twain said, news of his death has been greatly exaggerated.
Maurizio Dini June 01, 2008 12:22AM
Hi Miss Gail:

in your VIP list, there is an american collector, which I know as a reliable email pal friend; as I know is an eminence in his medicine speciality; his name is Mark Feingloss, endocrinologist, and prominent collector.

Perhaps some of your contacts (I guess miss Dona Leicht) may give you his coordinates.

....And of course, (but it's not a matter of patriotism), I will sponsor Adriana & Renato Pagano; they are not just dealers....They are fantastic and lovely people to meet and speak; Renato has plenty stories to the way, if you meet tem, give my friendly and brotherhood greetings.

Maurizio Dini
an italian living in Chile
James Spann June 01, 2008 07:08AM
Dona, will see you in Springfield.
Maurizio, nice to hear such lovely things about mineral is it, by the way, being an Italian living in Chile????
Maurizio Dini June 01, 2008 03:43PM
Miss Gails:

thanks for your message and kind coments; I can read that you are an active mindat amateur and positive person! My compliments!

Going to your point, I am 100% italian (born in Rome); I have traveled a lot in my life, inspite my age (39)!

I have actually found my love here and my 5 old year son borned in Chile; he is is truly amazing and incredible. I am speaking him italian since he has 2 days..., maybe there will be a chance to go back to Italy in a few years.

However, I am greatfull to this country...I have learned a lot on chilean minerals, and I had the chance to meet virtually great friends in this comunity....

I will be eternally linked with this fascinating country (not only Chile, I rather say South America has something's like when you go to Africa, there is an African homesick....and of course, there is a Latinamerican homesick!!).

take care
Maurizio D.
James Spann June 01, 2008 04:13PM
I am so happy you have a wonderful son and woman in your life. And it is nice to hear that you really enjoy living in Chile. Too many spend time talking about how great it is in the "old" country and never really respect the way of life, people and charm of the "adopted" country.
Good for you!

For me it is the Greek Islands, I spent time going from island to island and they each had their own charm. I feel the need to go and explore some more, with my husband alongside. He has never been as I went before meeting him.

I was born in England, London area...moved to Canada while young and settled in the States. I love living here and I can still love the other places I have lived as they all contributed to making my life adventurous. My parents have an adventurous spirit and they instilled that in me early on.

Combine that with a collector mentality and you will find Mindat full of the same type of people. Live life to the fullest!
Warm regards, Gail
Jesse Fisher June 01, 2008 07:14PM

Someone recently told me that he had passed away rather suddenly. If I am mistakenly passing on false rumor and inuendo, my apologies.

Maurizio Dini June 01, 2008 10:15PM
Hello again Miss Gail:

first of all apologize to other fellows if I am running a bit sentimental talking about autobiography issues; but it's so stimulating when someone such as Gail, hits the vibrations and emotions of our lives!

Gail, I have been twice in Greece, and as I could realize, mitology, simple way of living is garantee! I havent't get the chance to visit Santorini, the Thera underwater crater is one of the 7 wondereres of the world!

Back to the core of the thread, wouldn't it be great to edit a book based exclusively on some of the amazing personal stories related to minerals, mine adventure, that you may get from eache one of those who are still on spot??

Or maybe I am just late...., there are also books on this topic!

Gail (and fellows out there), feel free contact me on by email:

Maurizio D.
Bonni Mackintosh June 09, 2008 05:06PM
Regarding Bill Schneider, my husband saw him (and maybe wife Nancy) a month ago at the San Diego Anglers club. They are very nice folks. A link to his interesting biography for MR (can be cut and pasted if needed) is:

His son Tom is in business downtown in San Diego selling cut gems and gemmy rough. His website is
James Spann June 09, 2008 05:08PM
Thank you Bonnie!
L Frazer March 06, 2010 05:14PM
Hi, I am not a regular member of this forum, but in trying to locate an old friend, I came across your post. Chuck Turley was a geologist with whom I worked in Montana and Utah when we were both employed by Utah International Inc. doing mineral exploration (1982 - 1986). He had a side business buying and selling mineral specimens and I have several nice pieces from him. I believe his business was called "Silver Sceptor Minerals" and he was partners with M. (Marshall?) Koval. I know he was a regular at the Tucson show for many years. He and Marshall had an article in this publication - the Miller collection may have been one they inventoried in Missoula:

Mineralogical Record 18(6) : November-December 1987. $15
Cover: Cinnabar with dolomite and quartz
With STEREOPTICON 707 - a stereoscope.
Mineral curators: their appointment and duties P.G. Embrey 389
Pyrite crystals from the Duff quarry R.P. Richards and S.C. Chamberlain 391
Mineral stereophotography W.E. Wilson and S.C. Chamberlain 399
The Miller calcite collection C. Turley and M. Koval 405
Mineralogy of the Killie mine, Elko County, Nevada G.E. Dunning and J.F. Cooper, Jr. 413
Historical notes on mineralogy L.H. Conklin 423
Microminerals W.A. Henderson, Jr. 435
Index to volume 18 446

He was a close personal friend of mine, a knowledgeable geologist as well as a character, but I lost track of him and would love to hear from anyone who has any news about Chuck. You can email me at Thanks!
Rob Woodside March 06, 2010 05:40PM
I haven't seen Chuck for well over a decade, but I saw Marshal in Denver two shows ago. (All my fault since those were the last shows I attended) I have forgotten the whereabouts of Chuck, but Marshall was into mining in South America. The person you want to talk to is George Witters who is still dealing in Denver. He will certainly know.

I was a little surprised reading the earlier posts on this thread, until I noticed the dates. Just before this recent (2010) Tucson show Harvey Gordon died. It happens to us all and when people hear of someone's demise they express sympathy. However, even though Harvey had been ill and somewhat recovered, everyone let out a gasp of real sadness when I told them of this kind man's death. Harvey was a wonderful person and all who knew him are sorry for his loss.
Gail Spann March 07, 2010 05:23AM
I had forgotten all about this thread, am glad to go back and read it again. Since I first started this I have actually met and come to know many on the list. I guess you can't help bumping elbows when you go to shows.
L Frazer, I hope you find your friend!

Gail Patricia Copus Spann
William W Besse March 07, 2010 07:45PM

Neil and Chris Pfaff are still around but not active in the hobby that I know of.

Gus Meister passed away a couple of years ago. His daughter, Ann, is still active in the hobby. She still makes the Meister Trimmer and sells parts for same.

Tony Potucek was one of the judges at the TGMS show this year and worked on organizing the Azurite case. Also, Barbara and Forrest Cureton were the rarity judges as the have been for so many years.

Peter Keller left the GIA some time ago and is now President of the Bowers Museum

Kirby (note spelling) and Eddy Siber have Siber+Siber in Aathal, Switzerland. I saw Kirby at the TGMS show.


PS> OOPs. I did not look at the original dating of this thread, so you probably have this info already. WWB

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/07/2010 07:51PM by William W Besse.
alfredo ferri February 26, 2011 12:08PM
Hi Guys ....I'm still in business ...with my own company I SASSI Milano -Italy ...I've bee at GJX ...last Tucson show ...!!!
I'm writing now about my life as collector Tuscon for the show since 1972 ...never lost one !!!
See you soon in S.Marie ...
Gail Spann February 26, 2011 07:06PM
Thanks, still good to hear.

Gail Patricia Copus Spann
Fred & Linda Elsnau February 27, 2011 12:08AM

Gus Meister passed away a few years ago and Ann is the current president of MSSC. We would love to see you at a meeting once in a while!

Linda & Fred
Luiz Alberto Dias Menezes, Fo. February 28, 2011 08:39PM
Álvaro Lúcio is 86 years ago and very active as a mineral dealer (at the Inn Suites) and as a consultant on Metallurgy. He has what is on my opinion the second best mineral collection in Brazil (the first is Julio Landmann's).

John Attard April 30, 2017 08:25PM
Malcolm Southwood Wrote:
> Gail,
> Cyril Kovac is still an active mineral dealer
> based here in Melbourne, Australia. As a matter
> of fact I spent a very pleasant morning yesterday
> with Cyril going through some of his mineral
> stock. I think its a few years since he's been to
> Tucson, but he's a great bloke, an honest dealer,
> and a good friend.

Jesse you wrote in this thread in 2008 that Alain Carion passed away.

I think Alain Carion is still around! I saw him in Tucson only a few years ago and am writing in 2017. Am referring to the French mineral dealer. If I am seeing dead people walking around I need to have some explanation!!..

Maybe someone will enlighten me.
Tony Albini May 01, 2017 12:43AM
Gail and Jim,

I knew a Bill Henderson when I was in CT. He is deceased. You can check with Wendell Wilson but I believe he wrote a micromounter's column in the early days of the Mineralogical Record. He was an avid micromounter.


Tony Albini
Paul De Bondt May 01, 2017 09:37AM
I know this topic is quite old but nevertheless, here are perhaps a few missing links.

I can confirm that Alain Carion is still around. Met him at the Liège show in november 2016.
Instead, French alps dealer and collector Michel Jouty passed away a few years back.
Davis New is deceased too, I read somewhere.
Back in 1988, I bought from him a nice radioactive specimen from Shinkolobwe.

I met Dwight Weber at the Tucson show in 1988 and he came to visit me in Belgium that same year.
For my hospitality, he gave me a superb ferberite from Zinnwald.
He specialised in Tsumeb and I bought a few specimens from him. Went to visit him at home near LA.
He wrote a few columns in the Tsumeb MR issue of 1976.
His company was Nature's Treasures based in Hawthorne, California.
Lost every contact with him. Does anyone knows more about him ?

Mario Pauwels May 01, 2017 11:03AM
Quote....French alps dealer and collector Michel Jouty passed away a few years back.

Paul, I have met Michel Jouty last August at the 2016 Chamonix Show. But unfortunately Michel died on December 11th, 2016 at the age of 86.

Best regards,
Mario Pauwels
Keith Compton May 01, 2017 12:21PM

Not sure why this topic is still active.

But I can advise that Cyril Kovac (Kovacic) passed in 2016.


Don Swenson May 01, 2017 12:39PM
Bill Metropolis now appraises and buys mineral collections. He and his 2 daughters have a booth at the Topsfield MA show in early May and one at the Capital Mineral Show in Concord NH in late August. He offers bargain specimens on his tables at these shows but many knowledgeable collectors attend in order to view and buy high-end specimens from him.
Alfredo Petrov May 01, 2017 02:40PM
I spoke with Alain Carion today in Osaka, Japan --- He is very much alive and active!
William W Besse May 01, 2017 02:44PM
I am not sure exactly but I believe Dwight Weber passed over 20 years ago. Among other things he had been president of the Mineralogical Society of Southern California.

Susan Robinson May 01, 2017 05:55PM
Betty Roberts was a warm, wonderful person, and was instrumental in putting together the first display of "reunion pockets" (I'm guessing at what the display was called) at the TGMS. The first exhibit was a gathering of the best crystals of wulfenites from the Red Cloud mine in museums' collections. It was spectacular, and great to see all of the best crystals in one display again.

Harvey Gordon was a mineral dealer from Reno, Nevada. His business name changed over the years and he had several claims in Nevada: Lola mine, Zapot mine, to name two of them.

Mark Feinglos is a physician who collects rare species.

Bill Henderson was a micromounter from Connecticut.

Bill Metropolis worked as a mineral collection manager under Carl Francis at Harvard U.

Chris Pfaff is the wife of Neil Pfaff (recently deceased). Neal was a superb field collector, and one of his "big digs" was at Spruce Peak in Washington for the quartz and pyrite crystals.

Paul Clifford is a retired curator (Cleveland Museum); Many of he and his wife's collection have been generously donated to the Seaman Mineral Museum, Houghton, MI.
Paul De Bondt May 01, 2017 08:47PM
Wendell Wilson just wrote me to say Dwight Weber passed away in 2009.
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