Kilian Edgar Bensusan
Kilian Bensusan, mining engineer, mineral collector and mineral and lapidary dealer, was born in Sydney, Australia on August 11, 1899.
A letter from a friend of the family (Laura Dodd) dated 1920 tells something of his start in life:
"He [Kilian] was flying during the latter half of 1917 and 1918. He went into the Naval Air Service from Tonbridge School. When he was going to be discharged he was just dismounting from a motor bicycle when an aimless fool on a “push” cycle ran into him and knocked him down. Before he had time to pick himself up a 5-ton steam lorry came tearing along and ran over him, breaking his arm in two places, his leg, his spine, smashing an ear drum and fracturing his skull. He was picked up as dead but after being 5 days in the hospital and still living they began to work on him and after 9 months in the hospital turned him out pretty well whole. He is amazingly cheery and mad on dancing and tennis and plays the piano wonderfully well."
Kilian grew up in Ouro Preto, Brazil, where his father was General Manager for Ouro Preto Gold Mines Ltd. for 21 years (1905-1926). He was educated at the Royal School of Mines in England and spent many years working as a mining and petroleum geologist in the interior of Brazil, Venezuela, Australia and Africa. He pioneered oil exploration in Venezuela and directed exploration for manganese, mica, quartz and other strategic materials in Brazil during World War II.
Upon retirement in 1945 Bensusan moved to California and opened up a lapidary and mineral shop in Van Nuys Boulevard. He was very active in the community and taught numerous popular classes in mineral and lapidary work. In March of 1955 he helped found a rockhound club called the Valley Independent Petrologists. From this beginning the enthusiasm of the group rapidly spread out over the San Fernando Valley.
Kilian Bensusan died May 3, 1968 in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he had lived for only a month. His mineral collection, assembled during his years of work in Brazil, was presented to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
Reader's Digest, August 1955
BENSUSAN, K. (1948) Minas Gerais and its gem minerals. Rocks & Minerals, vol.23, no.8, August 1948, p.681-685
ANONYMOUS (1968) K. E. Bensusan, 23-year Sepulveda resident, dies. Van Nuys News, May 19, 1968.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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