John Thomas Veevaert was born on March 19, 1957 in Whittier, California to Betty Lenora Camp and Eleuther Edmond "Ed" Veevaert. They had met in Munich, Germany in 1947 while both were serving in the armed forces during the Allied Occupation following World War II. After the war Ed worked as an aerospace engineer for Northrup and TRW, and spent considerable time at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena during the early lunar exploration missions and subsequent Apollo Program.
John owes his 1977 entry into minerals to Fullerton Community College geology professor Pete Tresselt. Pete conveyed his enthusiasm for minerals during John's Mineralogy class. A requirement of the class was to amass during the semester a collection of minerals consisting of at least 100 different mineral species. Owing to John's finances at the time, it meant a lot of field collecting. Fortunately he was living in southern California and had access to scores of mineral localities within a 200-mile radius. Many hours were spent in Pala, Searles Lake, dozens of prospects in the Mojave Desert and several prominent localities in Arizona such as the Red Cloud mine. Specimens for this project were collected on nearly every weekend from September 1977 to January 1978! At the end, John had a collection of 118 different mineral species, all self-collected. As a result, mineral collecting became a passionate part of John's life from that point forward.
One locality in particular that Pete had discussed during John's mineralogy class was the Benitoite Gem mine. Benitoite had so many interesting and unique features that a trip to this remote spot in southern San Benito County became a must, so finally in May of 1980 John made his first trip to the mine. He found a few small traces of benitoite and one large, partial neptunite crystal. It was not until returning home to etch some of the material that the true thrill of the mine struck him. Exposing for the first time crystals of benitoite and neptunite that had been encased in natrolite for eons felt akin to winning the lottery! A year later he returned there again, eventually making at least 40 trips to this incredible locality.
In 1977 it became clear that a career in Geology was in John's future. He took all the Geology courses offered at Fullerton Community College, then transferred in 1980 to Humboldt State University in Arcata, California to complete is BS in Geology. John graduated in 1982, and then worked for four years in the mineral exploration industry with two mining companies – one in Alaska and one in Nevada. In 1986 John returned to Humboldt to pursue his MS degree in fluvial geomorphology.
From 1986 until 1988 John worked for Redwood National Park while completing requirements for his Master's Degree. John's thesis and project work required the need to process a great deal of data related to grain size distribution, residual stream pool volumes, stream channel morphology and several other parameters. To facilitate the number crunching, John developed several original programs in FORTRAN and BASIC. The computerization saved several man-months of time that would have been needed using a hand-held calculator. It also gave John a clear sense of the future of computers.
John graduated again from Humboldt in 1988 and then found work as a geologist with the US Forest Service – a branch of the US Department of Agriculture in Trinity County California - working in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Life went on for John from there with an interest in vegetable gardening, fishing, gold mining, contract computer programming and, when the time was available, mineral collecting in Nevada and southern California.
In 1995 the Internet arrived on the scene and John sensed an opportunity to explore his passion for computers and minerals. He spent eight months developing a website to offer minerals with the hope that he would lose money and pay fewer dollars in taxes as a result. The site went live on July 20, 1996. What he did not count on was the immediate success of this endeavor and so on July 5th, 1997 he resigned his position with the Forest Service and became a full-time Internet mineral dealer.
John established the third mineral-based website on the Internet, preceded only by Steve Covey and Bob Keller. The primary focus of his websites are benitoite, reports from various mineral shows he attends, a large auction site (John pioneered mineral auctions for the Internet), and an emphasis on educating the buying public about the scientific aspects of minerals such as their chemistry, crystal form and important associations. His umbrella website is trinityminerals.com, but he has several other active domains including: benitoite.com, tsumeb.com, mineralshows.com, mineralmuseums.com, mineralbooks.com, mineral-auctions.com, and rareterra.com (formerly rareminerals.com).
After becoming a mineral dealer John decided to restrict the scope of his personal collection to benitoite from any global location (many people are surprised to learn that there a number of localities for benitoite) and minerals from the Benitoite Gem mine. He didn't want to be in direct competition for other worldwide specimens with his own customers. John's benitoite collection is probably the most comprehensive in existence, in terms of crystal habit and and rare associations. He has the only known specimen of native silver from the Benitoite Gem mine - a small 1-mm wire attached to one of several djurlelite crystals. A small benitoite crystal confirms the locality. At this time his benitoite collection consists of over 200 specimens and is growing.
John and his wife (since 1985), Colleen O'Sullivan, live in the historic gold mining town of Weaverville in Trinity County, California.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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