Remembering Killian E. Bensusan

In remembering Killian E. Bensusan, an Australian miner and teacher of mineralogy, I’m reminded of my life as a young teenager.  The year was 1966, and as a birthday gift I received money to attend an informal course on minerals given by Mr. Bensusan.  My cousin Gregg Turner, although only ten, also attended.  The class took place in Killian’s backyard and he had several adult students in addition to us.  Killian had worked in mines with John Grieger, about whom there is a generous article in The Mineralogical Record.  Grieger opened up a store in Pasadena that brought a note of disdain from Mr. Bensusan:”He’s gone commercial.  Not a real miner or mineral student anymore.”  Killian was always known for his frankness and strong opinions.  His features were rough, and one could tell he had a hard life in the mines.  However, during the class, he seemed to sparkle, telling us about nearby localities that offered colorful minerals.  He said that Howlite, a soft mineral, could only be found near Palmdale in Southern California.  He regaled us with his own mineral adventures, and I remember that I enjoyed the class very much.  For our “final exam”, Killian had put a number of different minerals on a table for us to identify.  I recall that Gregg and I did quite well as we had mineral collections of our own.  After we completed the course, we were given a small card, stating we had completed his course successfully.  I found that card recently in a drawer in the back room of our house.  When I looked at it, the memories of this special time returned, and I am truly grateful for having had the opportunity to meet this interesting man.

Note:  He also gave me a small watermelon tourmaline, an aquamarine crystal and a morganite(pink form of beryl) as gifts.