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November-December 2017

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In Memoriam: Raymond Rodney Berry (1928–2017)

The Colorado mineral collecting community suffered an unexpected loss on 22 May 2017 when Ray Berry, a valued and much loved and respected mineral collector, passed away at the age of eighty-eight.

Ray was born on 5 November 1928 to Floyd and Lulu Berry in Cortland, New York, in the eastern Finger Lakes region. He was the youngest in a family of eight children; one older brother lost his life in the Second World War. Ray served in the U.S. Army Air Forces/U.S. Air Force (USAF) from 1946 to 1948, becoming a staff sergeant. While stationed in Japan, he was the manager of an Armed Forces Radio Station, WLKI, in Fukuoka. After a time in the Air Force Reserve, Ray also served in the USAF during the Korean War, stationed at McChord Air Force Base, Washington, from 1950 to 1951.

Through an apprenticeship Ray learned the trade of a diesinker (die-sinker), working for the Brewer-Tichener Corporation in Cortland, machining dies for the drop forge industry. He married Eloise Raklyeft in 1952; Eloise, earlier a cadet nurse, was operating room supervisor at the Cortland Memorial Hospital. Ray and a friend, using plans from Popular Mechanics, built camping trailers, and Ray and Eloise traveled and camped throughout New York and the eastern states. In 1965 they moved to Farmington, Michigan, near Detroit, where Ray worked for Huron Forge, making tool dies for the auto industry. Here, canoeing replaced camping as the Berrys' favorite pastime. On 1 May 1970 the Berrys, along with four other friends and their families who all worked for the same forging company, relocated to Colorado Springs, working for Western Tool and Die, of which Ray ultimately became president and general manager. In 1984 he became a partner in Pioneer NC, which made dies using computerized equipment, and from which Ray finally retired in 1991.

Prior to arriving in Colorado Springs in 1970, Ray and Eloise had sold their 1966 Oldsmobile and replaced it with a 1966 International Scout 4WD, which they used to explore the backroads and trails in Colorado. That first July in Colorado they attended the Pikes Peak Gem and Mineral Show, and in Ray's words (Berry 2016, p. 11), “when I saw case after case of crystals and someone explained that they were natural and many had been collected right here in the Pikes Peak area, I was SOLD!” They joined the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society and begin learning about minerals and going on field trips in the Pikes Peak region to collect them.

Ray had a long, rewarding career collecting minerals and as an active member of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society, as well as being a longtime member of the Friends of Mineralogy (FM), Colorado Chapter. In the Colorado Springs club, aside from holding several offices over the years, including president in 1976 and 1977, Ray had been a leader of their “Camera Club” (focused on photographing Colorado scenery as well as specimens) and was also active in their Crystal Study Group. Ray compiled a 94-page History of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society in 2002 (published for the society then and reprinted with a small amount of update in 2015). Ray served as one of the photography coordinators for the book Minerals of Colorado, compiled by members of the FM Colorado Chapter and published in 1997.

Ray was best known for his collecting of smoky quartz, amazonite, goethite, and fluorite in the pegmatites of the Lake George/Crystal Peak area, Colorado. His own Second Mesabi claim, filed in 1978 (named in reference to the Minnesota iron range), produced abundant specimens of goethite on smoky quartz, some with the late-stage growth of smoky to amethystine quartz with goethite inclusions, traditionally known as “onegite.” Ray published an article about the goethite-included quartz in Rocks & Minerals (Berry 2001) and an article about Rich Fretterd's spectacular smoky quartz and fluorite finds (Berry and Fretterd 2003).

In 2016, Ray published (through an account of his life and years of collecting history, Thirty-five Years of Mineral Collecting and Still Counting, updating an earlier, personally circulated version copyrighted in 2005 and first revised in 2006 (Media Reviews, this issue) (the “thirty-five years” refers to the time up to its first, 2005, version; Ray was able to count another good dozen years of collecting).

Ray was much liked and will be much missed by mineral collectors, friends, and family. He was always willing to share his knowledge, skills, and advice about collecting. I have many fond personal memories of Ray: working with him on the Minerals of Colorado book; Ray helping lead one of the field trips for our Colorado Pegmatite Symposium in 1986 and numerous other field trips since; visiting him at home and touring through his collection of many “special” Pikes Peak minerals (smoky quartz, goethite, “onegite,” twinned amazonite and other forms of microcline), and much more. His loss is keenly felt, and we are all so pleased that he was at least able to see his book published before his death.

Ray is survived by two sons, Stephen and Robert, two granddaughters, and seven great-grandchildren. His beloved wife of fifty-nine years and longtime collecting partner, Eloise, had passed away in 2012.


I thank Ray's son, Bob Berry, for providing additional information about Ray's life beyond that given in the online obituary (; accessed June 2017). Frank Rosenberg provided the photograph.


Berry, R. R. 2001. Goethite inclusions in quartz from the Pikes Peak Granite. Rocks & Minerals 76 (4): 228–32.

Berry, R. R. 2016. Thirty-five years of mineral collecting and still counting. 2nd rev. ed. Colorado Springs, CO: Published privately. []

Berry, R. R., and R. Fretterd. 2003. Large smoky quartz and fluorite crystals from the Holy Moses Pocket, Godsend claim, Lake George, Colorado. Rocks & Minerals 78 (4): 220–24.


Dr. Peter J. Modreski, a consulting editor of Rocks & Minerals, is a geochemist and public communications specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey.


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