John Fredric Whitmire, owner of Whitmire's Minerals in Yuma, Arizona, was born in Ramona, California on February 22, 1927, the son of Maybell Dye and Hugh Edwin Whitmire, an accountant for Western Lumber in San Diego. In his youth John spent his time between the family ranch in Ramona and an apartment in San Diego. His mother (a graduate of Principia College) and father divorced in 1937 and his mother became the librarian in Ramona, then in 1942 she took a job as an engineering draftsman for the government, and they moved to Coronado, California.
John collected Indian artifacts, but as his love of prospecting and field collecting grew (and Indian artifacts became more scarce) he turned to mineral collecting. One of his first collecting adventures was with his uncle, Robert Dye, an early California mineral dealer; they traveled to the Four Peaks area in Arizona and collected amethyst.
John served two years in the Army during the Korean War, and it was in Japan during those years that he met his first wife, Teruko Onta. After the war he returned to San Diego and took a job with Rohr Aircraft. John and Teruko had one son, John W. "Butch" Whitmire, who now works as a chemist for San Diego Gas and Electric Company (and is a mineral collector). John and Teruko later divorced (she died in 2004) and John and his second wife, Rosa Salazar-Smith, had one daughter, Veronica, born in 1967.
In 1956 John established his mineral business, and began making more collecting and buying trips, especially to Mexico. His uncle, Bob Dye, continued to have a supportive influence. In the early 1970's John obtained a large amount of native silver from Batopilas, Mexico, and also handled major discoveries of legrandite and purple adamite (1981) from the Ojuela mine, and creedite from Santa Eulalia, Mexico. He traveled extensively throughout Mexico, braving remote areas and contending with many difficulties. He owned, at least for a while, claims on several important specimen-mining properties including the San Francisco mine in Sonora, one of the Veracruz amethyst prospects, and the Baja sulfur mine. He was primarily a wholesaler who supplied fine Mexican minerals to dealers, museums and collectors for over 30 years, and was a regular at the annual Tucson Show. His wife Rosa helped him in the business and had her own collection of thumbnail specimens.
John died in Yuma, Arizona on June 18, 1989. He is survived by his son and daughter, one brother, Wilson (born 1934), and one sister, Susan (born 1931), who is married to mineral dealer Joe Kielbaso.
SCHLEPP,,G. and J. (1989) Died, John Whitmire, 62. Mineralogical Record, 20, 420.
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