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Richard W.  Graeme III
(1941-    )

Richard William "Dick" Graeme III was born in Bisbee, Arizona, on December 13, 1941, the son of Josephine Genevieve Keeler (a Registered Nurse at the Copper Queen Hospital) and Richard William Graeme, Jr., an underground miner (his father, Richard William Graeme, Sr., was an arms runner, supplying the Mexican Rebels during the Revolution, in the years 1911 to 1929). Dick's maternal grandfather had come to Bisbee in 1883 to work as a miner, and he collected mineral specimens (several of which are still retained in the family collection).

Dick grew up in Bisbee and began his working life as an underground miner there for 12 years, the last eight of which he also worked full-time while earning his BS degree in Geological Engineering, awarded by the University of Arizona in 1972. Following graduation, he was appointed Resident Geologist at the Copper Queen mine for 3 years, including the responsibility for mineral specimen recovery ahead of mining. When the mines were closed at Bisbee in 1975 he transferred to Ajo as General Mine Foreman. He finally left the employ of Phelps Dodge Corporation in 1979, afterwards serving as the General Manager of gold mines in California, New Mexico and Nome, Alaska, as well as a coal mine in Utah and a copper mine in New Mexico for Gold Fields, Ltd. or Sharon Steel.

As an executive, he served as Vice President of Operations for Sharon Steel Natural Resources (based in Denver); then Vice President of Operations for Golden Queen Mining Company (Mojave, California), followed by Vice President and Head of Operations for Gold Fields Ghana, Ltd. (in West Africa), then as Vice President and Country Manager of Gold Fields Venezuela, Vice-President and General Manager of Gold Fields La Cima in Peru; and most recently as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Lumina Copper SAC, also in Peru. In all, he worked in the mining industry for 55 consecutive years.

Dick can't remember a time when he was not fascinated by minerals and underground collecting. The Graeme Family collection, greatly contributed to by his sons as well, still includes some of the specimens Dick collected at the age of 10 or 12 (good ones, too!). His grandfather was a strong influence, as were Bisbee collectors extraordinaire Mike Cunningham and Esker Mayberry, and also George Bideaux who took him to see the first Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in 1955. Dick and George formed a friendship when Dick was just 14 and providing specimens to George for his mineral shop in Tucson. George even helped support Dick's educational goals at the University.

The Graeme Family mineral collection is held jointly now by Dick and his two sons, Rich (Richard IV) and Doug. Currently it consists of over 7,000 specimens, of which over 500 are high-quality display pieces. Sixteen of these, all field collected by Dick and/or sons, are pictured in the Graeme Family's chapter in the 2013 Mineralogical Record supplement devoted to Mineral Collections in Arizona. The collection is focused exclusively on Bisbee, nowadays seeking anything different in form, association, paragenesis, etc., especially specimens that tell a story rather than those that just catch the eye (primarily because they already have so many of the latter). The scope of the collection covers the whole of Bisbee's mineralogy and ores, with the goal of putting the many different species and occurrences in their geologic context. He has always used the same specimen labels since 1985, when he first started using personal labels.

Dick is the author of several important articles on Bisbee, including the principal description of the locality in the Mineralogical Record ("Famous mineral localities: Bisbee, Arizona"; 1981), which won the Best Article of the Year Award, updates of that article in 1993 and 2015, and the 2012 Mineralogical Record supplement "Treasures of the Queen." He is also author of the 1987 article on "Bisbee; Arizona's dowager queen of copper camps: A look at her first 50 years" (in History of Arizona Mining), a chapter in the 1992 book Bisbee: Urban Outpost on the Frontier, a 1999 article on "The Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company 1885-1917, A History of the company and its employees" (The Mining History Journal; 1999), the Bisbee chapter in the book American Mineral Treasures (2008) and coauthor of Collecting Arizona, State of Mines, Legacy of Minerals (2012) with long-time friends Tony Potucek and Les Presmyk, as well as others. Also with his sons in 2016, the books Glossary of Mining and Mining Related Terms as used at Bisbee, Arizona, The Forgotten Caves of Bisbee, Arizona, and An Overview of the Post Mining Minerals Found at Bisbee, Arizona.

Beginning around 1950, as a kid, and later as a miner and thereafter (with his sons) until around 2000 he collected and sold thousands of Bisbee specimens, as well as specimens collected elsewhere. Like so many field collectors, he sold to support his addiction to buying more (Bisbee) specimens for his own collection. Dick says: "My sons were active from about age 6 to date. It's amazing how helpful a small kid can be when collecting small pockets."

The Bisbee mineral graemite was named in his honor in 1974, in recognition of his many contributions to the knowledge of the mineralogy, geology and history of Bisbee.

Dick has attended every Tucson Show except for two: in 1980 he was snowed in at Silver City, New Mexico, and in 1994 (when he was show chairman!) he was in the Chilean Andes and became snowed in again. He is still actively interested in minerals, especially Bisbee minerals, and is now retired and living in Lima, Peru, though his family still keeps a home in Tucson as well. He can be contacted by email at or through the family website at ________________________________________
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Richard W.  Graeme III
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