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William F. Larson
(1945-    )

William Frank "Bill" Larson has been among the leading American gem and mineral dealers for over 35 years and a collector for 55 years. A long-time resident of Fallbrook, California, he was born June 19, 1945 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of Lelia Lung and Carl William Larson. He began collecting agates on the lakeshores of Minnesota and found minerals on the dumps of the famous Pala pegmatites at the age of eight. Two years later he joined other area youths in assisting the well-known San Diego mineral collector Josie Scripps in gathering local gem minerals. Scripps became his mentor and, later, his business partner on several small mining projects.

Bill went on to attend the Colorado School of Mines, graduating in 1967 with a degree in Geological Engineering—and a Tau Beta Pi key (the equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa for engineers). He then worked for a short time on gold and copper exploration in Alaska before applying this training to the exploitation of Southern California gemstone deposits. In 1968 he and Ed Swoboda founded the Pala Properties International dealership, (which became Pala International in 1979 when Larson purchased Swoboda's half-interest). Bill then purchased three San Diego County gem mines: the Stewart Lithia, Tourmaline Queen, and Pala Chief. In 1979 he also started work on the famous Himalaya mine, Mesa Grande, California. His retail shop, called The Collector, opened in Fallbrook in 1971 and showcases Pala International's gems, minerals, and objets d'art. A second shop is now open at the Four Seasons Aviara in Carlsbad, California.

Bill married Karla Knute in 1969, and she worked with him in the business until their divorce in 1979. In 1981 Bill remarried, to Jeanne Hancock, who has also been intimately involved in the business; they have two sons, William and Carl. Bill still makes numerous annual buying trips to the world's major gem-producing centers and gem shows to maintain Pala International's extensive inventory of gemstones and fine mineral specimens. And he is involved in several mining projects overseas, including work at a demantoid deposit in Russia and an irridescent andradite deposit in Alamos, Mexico. Bill has supplied major specimens to leading museums and private collectors worldwide.

In addition to his extraordinary mineral collection, Bill has also built one of the nation's finest private collections of mineral specimens and gems, and, with the help of his long-time friend John Sinkankas, has gathered an extensive antiquarian library of over 1,800 volumes (Sinkankas supplied over 300 books from his personal collection, including several very rare lapidaries). Bill's library is especially rich in books on the mineral-rich areas of Asia and Baja California. He also serves on the board of the San Diego Natural History Museum, and on numerous boards of organizations in the gemstone field.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2014)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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The Mineralogical Record - William F. Larson William F. "Bill" Larson
The Mineralogical Record - William F. Larson 64 x 89 mm,
A label for a specimen from the personal collection of Bill Larson and his first wife, Karla (1969-1979)
The Mineralogical Record - William F. Larson 38 x 77 mm
The Mineralogical Record - William F. Larson 38 x 76 mm
The Mineralogical Record - William F. Larson 38 x 76 mm
The Mineralogical Record - William F. Larson 38 x 76 mm
The Mineralogical Record - William F. Larson 37 x 77 mm
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