Robert Royer “Bob” Dye was born in Eaton, Ohio, on April 7, 1910, the son of Vinnie Maybel Royer (b.1881, a librarian and Christian Scientist) and Robert Campbell Dye, Assistant Assessor for the City of Long Beach in 1930--the family having moved to Long Beach, California, in the 1920s. Bob attended Long Beach Junior College in 1930, majoring in engineering but also studying geology. He already was so versed in geology that he never had to open his Geology textbooks to receive an A in the class.
Bob's sister, Maybell Dye, married Hugh Edwin Whitmire. Bob and his mother and brother (William) lived right next door. Thus Bob became an uncle (and mentor) to Hugh's son, mineral dealer John Whitmire (1927-1989). One of their first collecting adventures together was a trip to the Four Peaks area in Arizona to collect amethyst – Bob leased the mine there for seven years in the 1950s.
During the 1930s Bob's family moved to Ramona, Calif. He worked as a farmer, mineral and gem miner, and mineral dealer (as " Robert R. Dye Minerals "), while prospecting every chance he got. For about four years he worked as a lion hunter for the California State Game and Fish Department. His territory covered the southern half of the state, so he was able to explore many remote mountain and desert areas, often on foot. He loved camping and hiking and became an avid collector of Native American artifacts, finding many arrowheads, ollas and other Indian objects as well as minerals on his treks. Bob particularly loved crystals and fossils and amassed a nice collection of them.
During World War II Bob worked in the calcite mine in Borrego, Calif., which produced the optical calcite used to make bomb sites on U.S. bomber planes. Bob and two partners, Jack Frost and the renowned desert artist Dohn Hilton, bought the mine and worked there for much of the war years. During this time Bob was invited up to a similar calcite mine in Montana which was not producing well. Poking around there he discovered the largest calcite pocket ever found at that location. Between the two mines, Bob found many nice crystals.
In June 1945 Bob met and married his wife Mary. Together they had one daughter Christine (born 1948) and one son Robert (born 1950). Bob and Mary moved to Dulian, California. They started their married life with a three-week honeymoon trip to New Mexico where they collected some nice agates. This was the first of many rock collecting trips they took together. The truck Bob owned at that time had a canvas-covered cargo area and travelled at a top speed of 35 mph, but it could haul a lot of rocks!
During about 1949-1950 Bob leased the Four Peaks amethyst mine in Arizona from the Yuchem Brothers for two years. Using a horse and one or two donkeys, the family packed in and out of the mine area. His brother Bill Dye and wife Dorothy also helped out sometimes at the mine. A lot of high-quality amethyst was mined, and Bob sold it as crystals and cutting rough for many years. Many beautiful gem stones were cut from Four Peaks amethyst by his customers.
Around 1952-1953 the family moved to Warner Springs, California, where Bob built a beautiful adobe brick home. That project took quite a few years because he was still rockhunting and selling regularly at gem and mineral shows all over the western U.S. Of course the whole family travelled with him to the shows.
Bob was successful in the mineral business, even though he never had a rock shop or other job for income (only selling at shows), perhaps because he collected and prepared for sale most of his inventory. But he also bought lapidary minerals from other countries (such as tiger eye and Brazilian agates) from importers in Los Angeles. Bob attended the various Federation shows, California mineral shows (including the Castro Valley Show) and the Tucson Show as a mineral dealer in the 1960s.
He was a hard worker and loved what he did. He was always an honorable salesman, charging fair prices and giving good value to every customer.
Among the many things Bob collected in the field were fossil fish (Green River, Wyoming), Dugway geodes (Utah), snowflake obsidian (Utah), turritella and oolite agates (Wyoming), trilobites (Utah), smoky quartz crystals (Dogtooth Peak, in the Sierras), sulfur crystals (Baja California), giant fossil barnacles (Baja California), ammonites (Baja California), barite roses (Oklahoma), moss agates (Montana), quartz (Bagdad, Arizona), Apache tears (Arizona), quartz crystals (Arkansas), petrified wood (Arizona), staurolite crystal crosses (New Mexico), lepidolite (California), rhodonite (California), tourmaline (California), opalized wood (Nevada), agates and jaspers of all kinds and slabs of all kinds, plus many more. Near the end of Bob's career he switched from retail sales to wholesale.
Bob Dye died on December 13, 1973, collecting and selling up until the end. Mary continued the business part-time for about 10 years thereafter, with the help of son Bobby, selling the leftover inventory of minerals.
U.S. Federal Census records.
Christine Lewis (Bob's daughter), personal communication.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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