The Mineralogical Record
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Steve Neely
(1945-    )

Stephen Minick Neely was born in Washington, DC, on June 1, 1945, one of three sons of Elizabeth Seymour and Guy Morton Neely, a Naval officer with degrees is electronics and mathematics. He grew up in suburban DC, and after graduating from high school he entered the U.S. Naval Academy, but had to leave following an injury. Transferring to George Washington University, he received his BS (1967) and MS (1969) degrees, then earned his combination Medical Degree and PhD from the University of Virginia in 1973. After completing a fellowship at the Harvard Medical School and a residency at Massachusetts General Hospital (1975-1980), he went into private practice as an orthopedic surgeon in Lebanon, Tennessee.

After moving to Tennessee, Steve met Dr. Tim Thornhill, an anesthesiologist who was also a mineral collector; Thornhill's enthusiasm for minerals proved contagious, and soon Steve began developing into a mineral collector as well. He attended his first Tucson Show in 1985 (and every consecutive Tucson Show since then) and his first Denver Show in 1986. He also met fellow collector Al Partee, and they became collecting pals and traveling companions to shows and collecting localities. Smithsonian curator Paul Desautels mentored them and introduced them to really fine minerals; when he would run into them at the Tucson Show, he would often say, "Would you boys like to make the rounds?" And off they would go together, visiting the many dealer rooms. "Because we were with Paul, the dealers assumed our taste and knowledge were far above our actual level and we were shown the ‘hidden' specimens from the beginning" says Steve. "Both Al and I learned a great deal about minerals from Paul."

Steve met long-time mineral collector Keith Proctor in 1986, as well as dealers Richard Kosner, Dave Wilber and Bill Larson, all of whom had a significant influence during Steve's "formative years" as a mineral collector. Steve's closest collecting friends these days include Ralph Clark, Bryan Lees, Russ Behnke, Bruce Oreck, Marshall Sussman, and James and Charelle Webb. And Steve's collecting has enjoyed the support of his wife, Betty Lou, since the beginning.

Feeling the need to start afresh, Steve sold his original mineral collection in 1998, to Collector's Edge Minerals, and then sold them an additional 40 worldwide minerals in 2005. Today his "new" mineral collection is worldwide in scope, but with an emphasis on fluorite, and with special attention paid to his suites of specimens from the Elmwood, Gordonsville and Cumberland mines which are only about 35 miles from his home. He likes mostly small cabinet to full cabinet-size specimens, but there are no size restrictions within his locality collection, which contains thumbnails to museum-size pieces. Currently his mineral collection numbers around 500 specimens of very high quality. Steve's criteria for specimen acquisition are that, first of all, he has to like the aesthetics of the piece; it must be damage-free with an appealing matrix-to-crystal size ratio and exceptional color, crystal size, and transparency if appropriate.

Over the years he has sold Elmwood minerals form time to time, when significant finds have yielded more specimens than he could keep for myself, but he does not consider himself a dealer. Still, although his profession is that of orthopedic surgeon, his passion is for minerals. He has field-collected at Mt. Antero and a number of other Colorado localities including the Red Beryl claim in Utah; collecting in Arkansas is especially enjoyable because he usually comes home with a nice assortment of crystals. He has also become known among the Elmwood miners as a mineral collector, and they sometimes bring him fine specimens as gifts, or as exchanges for his medical services, or just to sell.

Steve enjoys sharing his knowledge of minerals, and has given talks multiple times to local rotary and civic clubs. He has written chapters on Elmwood minerals in several books including American Mineral Treasures (2008) and Nature's Garden of Crystals (2011). His collection won the McDole Trophy at the Tucson Show in 1990 and again in 1992; the National Trophy for small cabinet specimens in 1992; and the Richard M. Pearl Trophy at the Denver Show.

Steve currently serves on the board of directors of the Mineralogical Record (and as Chairman in 2015). He can be reached at neelytn@aol.com.
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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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The Mineralogical Record - Steve Neely Autographing his chapter in American Mineral Treasures (2008)
The Mineralogical Record - Steve Neely Some of Steve's collection
The Mineralogical Record - Steve Neely
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