Gene Bearss of Sanford, Maine, died of a heart attack while collecting minerals at Mineral Hill in Wakefield, New Hampshire on November 12, 2014. He was 76.
Gene was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1938. He served 22 years in the Navy and retired in 1976 as a chief avionics electrician technician. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Marie, and their two daughters and two grandchildren.
As an avid mineral collector and an authority especially on the minerals of northern New England and the Franklin-Sterling Hill deposit in New Jersey, Gene made some notable contributions to the field. He contributed to the identification and publication of two new Franklin species, monazite-(Ce) and synchysite-(Ce); he was first to identify parisite at the Ham & Weeks mine (its first occurrence in New Hampshire) and jahnsite at Parker Mountain. He also collected the rare beryl analogue bazzite at the Government Pit and (with Bob Janules) at Sugarloaf. Gene’s favorite collecting localities included the Estes Quarry; Mineral Hill, New Hamshire (ironically the site where he also suffered his first heart attack a few years ago); Franklin, New Jersey; and Magnet Cove, Arkansas.
Two of Gene’s most significant contributions to mineralogy were the discoveries in a boulder at Mount Mica in Paris, Maine of two microminerals that he recognized could be new species. He sent samples to the late Eugene Foord of the USGS in Denver who analyzed them and determined that they were indeed species new to science, kosnarite (1993) and mcrillisite (1994). These minerals are rare, but Gene generously distributed his finds among the scientific community and to serious collectors.
Gene’s generosity is well known, both in the mineral collecting world and among friends and neighbors. Whether he was helping someone stranded on the side of a road or assisting a neighbor with paying their bills or having a little something extra at Christmas, Gene could always be counted on. When asked a few years ago for suggestions as to where MMGS might purchase a club microscope for members to use, Gene donated one of his. Almost one-fourth of the lots sold at the 2014 MMGS auction were drawn from Gene’s voluminous donation of specimen material, most of which remains to be distributed at future MMGS sales.
Never at a loss for an opinion and always willing to share his thoughts on any subject, Gene is well known for his honest candor and wry sense of humor. At meetings of the Micromounters of New England, he could be depended on to vote “no” because he knew that the “ayes” would be overwhelming and he wanted his vote to stand out.
Gene was inducted into the Micromounters Hall of Fame in 2004 and was awarded a lifetime membership in the Micromounters of New England in 2010.
Compiled from a remembrance prepared by Joe Mulvey of Nashua, New Hampshire for the Micromounters of New England and from Gene’s obituary (11/18/14) in the Journal Tribune (Biddeford, Maine).