March 24, 1931 - July 8, 2020
John Trimbleby Julian Gray, GMS Member and Longtime Friend
Well-known and loved Georgia Mineral Society member, John Trimble, passed away on July 8, 2020 from an illness complicated by leukemia. John was a gentle soul with a great love for and knowledge of minerals, fossils, and gemstones. He was also friend to many far and wide. An outpouring of sorrow at John’s passing came from all corners of the country.
John was born in Akron, Ohio in 1931. He earned a degree in organic chemistry at Dennison University. John married his high school sweetheart, Barbara, while still in college. After graduating he began his lifelong career with Eastman Kodak, which took him from New York to Ohio, North Carolina, Tennessee, and ultimately Georgia. John did take leave from Kodak to serve our country in the Korean War.
When his transfer took him to Cincinnati, Ohio, he took up the mineral collecting hobby and many related aspects, which included fossil collecting and jewelry design. As he would do throughout his adult life, everywhere he went and lived, John became deeply involved with the local mineral community, developing a large collection of minerals, fossils, and lifelong friends. As he traveled to mineral shows or bought minerals online, he developed more friendships.
We in Georgia were lucky to have John in our community for his last years on Earth. He and his wife Barbara came to Georgia in the 1990's and he sought out the Georgia Mineral Society and became active there as he had everywhere else. He frequently hosted Mineral Sections meetings in his home. Attendees would recall he was a great, perfect gentleman and great host; there were always refreshments and snacks at meetings. He even had snacks in his hotel room in Denver and Tucson while attending those shows and invited friends to join him to chat.
His knowledge of minerals, localities, and personalities was immense and perfectly accurate. He was meticulous in caring for, storing, and cataloging his collection. He frequently volunteered at mineral functions, taking some of his collection and his microscope to shows and meetings. He especially loved helping and teaching kids.
Perhaps his least well-known, but largest and most visible project involved his volunteer work at Tellus Science Museum. As the Weinman Mineral Museum expanded to become the enormous Tellus Museum, John stepped up to help. It was John who mocked up almost every one of the 54 exhibit cases in the Mineral and Fossil Galleries. He took on this task as if it were a regular full-time job. John worked alone laying out the cases using specimens from the collections with minimal input from staff. When John saw a gap in an exhibit case, he would lend a mineral to complete the case. Ultimately John would donate 80 minerals or fossils from his collection. These were later donated to the permanent collection. During installation, John helped place many of the more than 1500 specimens on their bases. For his efforts at Tellus John was honored with the 2012 Museum Volunteer of the Year Award by the Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries. Although many people appreciate the beauty of Tellus’ Weinman Mineral Gallery, few know the name of the man behind the scenes.
As John began the inevitable process of slowing and downsizing late in his life, John began to sell off his collection to match the size of his shrinking living space. Through gift or sale, many of us who knew John were able to gain not just another rock on a shelf, but a keepsake and reminder of our friend John Trimble.
We were blessed to have had John in our community for many years and he left a lasting and memorable legacy. John’s family has asked that if you would like to do something to remember John, you can contribute in his memory to Tellus Science Museum (tellusmuseum.org/support-us/donate-now/) or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (lls.org).
Photos by Julian Gray
Copyright © Georgia Mineral Society, Inc.