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July-August 2017

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In Memoriam

Ed David was a longtime mineral collector who came and went at various shows and meetings without fanfare, but his trademark multicolored patchwork trousers would usually gain our attention. Although a serious collector, he was not the type to demand attention—he was low-key and quite modest—surprising because in his career he received honors that would require dozens of pages to list.

Ed died on 13 February at the age of ninety-two. In reviewing this man's life, I have to say he did not miss out on anything. All his years were well spent.

He was born 25 January 1925 in Wilmington, North Carolina, but was raised in Atlanta since age two. Ed's father died when Ed was a young teenager, and his wise mother guided him through his Navy V-12* college years at the University of Georgia, Emory University, and then Georgia Tech where he majored in electrical engineering.

Growing up in Atlanta, Ed played sandlot baseball, was All Southeast Wrestling champion, and participated in numerous other sports activities. He was an avid tennis player all his life.

Ed served in the U.S. Navy, and shortly after the end of World War II when his ship docked in Boston the pull of the venerable Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) took hold. I can't say that he “jumped ship,” but MIT won out over the Navy, although he remained in the Naval Reserve.

After receiving his doctorate at MIT, Ed joined Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, and became an executive director of research. Under the auspices of the National Science Foundation, Ed was instrumental in developing a high-school engineering curriculum. In 1970 he became Science Advisor to President Richard Nixon and ran the White House Office of Science and Technology until he resigned the position in 1973. Years later Ed said, “Science and politics may meet in the White House, but they don't mix well”—probably still true today. It was because he had been loaned to the Navy by Bell Labs to work with the British Admiralty that he did not serve in the Korean War.

You know that I always get to a love story whenever possible, and there is an enduring one here. Ann Hirshberg and Ed were destined to spend sixty-six years together. As small children they were taken on afternoon walks by their nurses with Ann in her pram and Ed on his tricycle. In later years it was sharing the chair lifts on their skiing holidays, side-by-side camel rides during a six-week tour of Egypt in the 1960s, as well as playing doubles on the tennis court. As Ed said, they were “on the same side of the court, but not together.”

Ed and Ann moved to Hoopstick Farm in Bedminster, New Jersey, in 1977. Previously owned by the Haller family, the farm was the site of the Essex Horse Trials for many years. Today, there are still horses on the farm, and Ann continues to enjoy her rides through the beautiful countryside.

Ed was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering and served as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Additionally, he was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Life Member of the Corporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the U.S. Representative to the NATO Science Committee, and a member of the NASA Advisory Council.

Not enough? Following his time at the White House, he led research and engineering for Gould Inc. in Chicago, joined Exxon Corporation in 1977, and served as president of the Exxon Research and Engineering Company until 1986 when he formed his own consulting firm, EED Inc., to advise industry, government, and universities on their management of technology, research, and innovation.

Ed also held several honorary degrees, was winner of the Arthur Bueche Award from the NAE, the Fahrney Medal from the Franklin Institute, the Industrial Research Institute Medal, the North Carolina Award for Science, and so many others. I know I have missed dozens more honors and awards—truly amazing.

So, you are most likely wondering how he ever found time to be such an ardent mineral collector. Let's back up to Ed at six years old and the youngest member of the Georgia Mineral Society. There were several elder members of the society who took this young boy under their wing. Throughout the following years of his life minerals were always present wherever he and Ann lived. Ann even studied geology at Wellesley as a nod to Ed's keen interest!

Once settled at the farm in Bedminster, the collection was refined and defined and was filled with the great mineral classics as well as new finds from around the world. Visits to the farm were always a pleasure and were filled with the mineral gossip of the day, trading stories, selecting specimens for Ed to acquire, and sharing lots of laughter. It was a serious collection, and he called it his “first collection.” A major portion of it was sold to the Houston Museum of Natural Science in 1993. His cases were nearly bare at the house so acquisitions began again, and the cases were once again overflowing with fine specimens. Through the years portions of the collection were sold or traded, but a solid core of the collection still remained.

Following Ed's wishes the collection has been bequeathed to the University of Arizona Mineral Museum. It was Ed's hope that the collection will be on display at the planned new museum at the old courthouse in downtown Tucson—just another reason that Tucson and its annual shows will remain the focus of mineral collectors the world over.

Ed is survived by his wife, Ann, and a daughter, Nancy David Dillon, of Virginia. As was his wish, he left us without any fanfare or “hoopla,” but, sorry Ed, groups of us will gather and give you our own version of hoopla.

I know readers are all about minerals, but Ed David was so much more than his mineral collection. He was a fine man who lived a fine and worthy life.

Good rally, Ed!

* The V-12 Navy College Training Program was designed to supplement the force of commissioned officers in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Dona Lee Leicht and her husband, Wayne, have owned and operated Kristalle in Laguna Beach, California, since 1974.

 

Just before Christmas, we learned the sad news that Dr. Erika Pohl-Ströher had passed away at the age of ninety-seven, on 18 December 2016, at home in Ferpicloz, Switzerland. With her passing, the TU Bergakademie Freiberg (Technical University Mining Academy Freiberg) lost a patron who, through permanent loan of a large part of her mineral collection to the university, enabled the establishment of the world-famous exhibition Terra mineralia at Schloss Freudenstein as well as the Mineralogische Sammlung Deutschland (Mineralogical Collection Germany) at the Krügerhaus. Since 2008, both museums have been magnets for visitors, attracting over 850,000 people. Within a few years, the entire renovated area around and including Schloss Freudenstein became a popular attraction in the city, establishing Freiberg as a geoscience hub. The collection has enriched research and teaching in a unique way.

 

Erika Ströher was born on 18 January 1919 in the Saxon town of Wurzen and grew up in Rothenkirchen, Vogtland. Her life was substantially shaped by the Wella company that her grandfather had founded in 1880. She majored in chemistry and biology at the University of Jena and received her PhD in biology. She was interested in minerals from an early age. During a stay at the health spa in Bad Gastein, Austria, she became enamored with quartz specimens that were offered as souvenirs. She started collecting minerals only sporadically, not turning into a serious collector until her children were grown and had left home. At first, minerals from the Alps, Erzgebirge, and other regional localities peaked her interest; later she turned to Eastern Europe, Africa, and America. Since the mid-1990s, her focus was minerals from deposits in China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Over six decades, she accumulated more than ninety thousand worldwide specimens of exceptional quality and aesthetics that she organized by regional localities. She established an international network of trade partners and dealers and was always kept well informed of exceptional and new mineral finds, thus enabling her to always add extraordinary specimens.

 

To preserve her legacy, she and her children extensively searched for an exhibition venue where a large portion of her collection could be exhibited as well as be used for scientific study and teaching. She ultimately decided on Freiberg. The year 2004 marked the starting point for the exhibition Terra mineralia with the foundation of the Pohl-Ströher Mineral Trust in Switzerland and the ratification of an agreement for a permanent loan of her mineral collection with the TU Bergakademie Freiberg. With the restoration of the Schloss Freudenstein, a unique exhibition space was created that was opened to the public in 2008. Specimens not on display are warehoused in a large depot, making them easily accessible for research. By the end of 2012, the exhibition Mineralogical Collection Germany at the Krügerhaus was finalized. During the entire time of the transition of her collection, Dr. Pohl-Ströher impressed her collaborators with her humility, demureness, and warm-heartedness.

 

As a benefactor, it was one of her greatest desires to get young people interested in natural sciences and earth sciences through the presentation of her minerals. Not only did she receive regular updates on the concept of the exhibition, but she also introduced her own ideas. She was especially delighted with the formation of the kids group, Mineralinos, and the development of numerous programs for activities for students as well as for children at home during school vacations. Today more than 350 school classes and over one thousand day visitors participate in these successful holiday activities, thus meeting the heart's desire of this benefactor.

 

Numerous honors have been bestowed upon Dr. Pohl-Ströher for her commitment to support geosciences. In 2004, the Berufsverband Deutscher Geologen (Professional Association of German Geologists) honored her with a prestigious award, the state of Saxony presented her with the Sächsischen Verdienstorden (Saxon Order of Merit) in 2005, and the TU Bergakademie Freiberg awarded her with the title Honorary Senator. She received an honorary PhD from the Faculty of Geosciences, Geotechnic, and Mining of the TU Bergakademie Freiberg in 2008. In 2013, she was honored with the naming of a new mineral for her: erikapohlite, a rare copper-zinc-calcium arsenate from her favorite locality—Tsumeb, Namibia.

 

It was not, however, just the world of minerals that she was fond of. Near the town of Freiberg two more exhibits came into existence: the Erlebnismuseum Manufaktur der Träume (Manufactory of Dreams) in Annaberg-Buchholz with her collection of folk art of the Erzgebirge region, and the Depot Pohl-Ströher in Gelenau that twice a year exhibits folk art, historic toys, and Christmas and Easter art.

 

We will always honor her memory and her legacy.

 

The Chancellor's Office of the TU Bergakademie Freiberg

 

Germany

Editor's note: Thanks are extended to Consulting Editor Günther Neumeier for translating this tribute from German to English.

Read more about Dr. Erika Pohl-Ströher's mineral collection in “The Schloss Freudenstein Terra Mineralia Collection: Fabulous New Mineral Exhibit Opens in Freiberg, Saxony, Germany” (March/April 2009 issue, pages 128–134) and “German Minerals in the Krügerhaus: A New Permanent Exhibition in Freiberg, Saxony, Germany” (May/June 2013, pages 212–221). 

 

 

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