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Milton L. Speckels
(1911-2004)

Milton Louis Speckels, better known as "Speck" to his friends, was born on May 13, 1911, in Coupland, Texas, the son of Alvina F. Pfluger and John August Speckels, a grocery store owner and real estate agent. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering Administration from Texas A & M, and then worked for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as a materials engineer on major dam sites in Texas and Arizona. Called up under an R.O.T.C. commission in 1942, he attained the rank of major in the U. S. Army before his discharge in 1946. In 1954, he moved to Ridgecrest, California and was hired as an engineer at the Naval Weapons Center at China Lake, California, where he worked until his retirement in 1975. He married Mina M. Burger, and they had a son, Robert Bruce Speckels in 1946, but they were divorced in 1966, and the following year he married Betty Lee Adams Gossett.

Milton became interested in Mineralogy while working at Davis Dam on the Colorado River in Arizona. There he met mineral dealer Guy Hazen, and they collected together at local mines, and a nearby quartz crystal locality. In 1956 he met micromounter William C. Oke in Fresno, California, and through his influence began concentrating on microminerals. Milton attended the first Baltimore Micromount Symposium, and was the first Micromount Chairman (1960-63) for the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies. He started the "Micro News" column in Gems and Minerals magazine, writings which later became the basis for his book, The Complete Guide to Micromounts (1965), a work that quickly became a standard for the hobby.

In 1966, Milton received the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies' National Trophy for Micromounts. He was a charter member of the Southern California Micromineralogists, and was Program Chairman for their first three Annual Conferences. He was also a member of the Northern California Micromounters Association, and the Northwest Micro Mineral Study Group in the State of Washington, and was a Life Member of the Mineralogical Society of America.

Milton eventually took more courses in mineralogy and crystallography, and began using the scanning electron microscope. He had a wide-ranging interest in minerals, but a particular fondness for the zeolites, publishing many locality discoveries. Most of the specimens in his collection of 5,200 cataloged micromounts were from western U.S. localities. Milton was also an accomplished mineral photographer, and presented slide shows of his specimen photos at club meetings, museums, mineral shows and symposia.

Following the death of his wife Betty in 1999 he moved to a retirement residence and put his micromount collection up for sale, distributing specimens to collectors around the world. He was inducted into the Micromounters Hall of Fame in 1991, and died of a heart attack in his long-time home in Ridgecrest, California on Saturday, May 15th, 2004, at the age of 93.

References:
WHITE, S. (2004) Milton Speckels, 1911-2004. CFMS Newsletter, vol. 40 (6), July 2004.
WIGHT, Q. (1993) The Complete Book of Micromounting. Mineralogical Record, Tucson, pp. 213-214.
WIGHT, Q. (2004) In memoriam: Milton Louis Speckels, 1911-2004. Rocks & Minerals, 79 (5), 361.
California Divorce Index.
California Marriage Index.
U.S. Federal Census, 1920, 1930.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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