April 4, 2016

Roy S. Clarke, Jr., Emeritus Curator in the Dept. of Mineral Sciences at the Smithsonian Institution, passed away on April 1, 2016, at the age of 91. Born January 23, 1925, Roy followed distinguished service in the Army during WWII with studies at Cornell University, earning his B.A. in 1949. Early in his career, he was employed at the U.S. Geological Survey as an analytical chemist, while earning an M.S. at George Washington University in 1957. He transferred to the Smithsonian in October of 1957, where he would remain through his retirement in December of 1993 and as an Emeritus Curator since retirement. Roy began his career as an analytical chemist within weeks of the launch of Sputnik and, before long, began analyzing the chemical composition of meteorites. Roy’s research interests centered on understanding the origin of iron meteorites, particularly coarse-structured irons rich in phosphorus. Upon the retirement of Ed Henderson in 1965, Roy assumed the role of Curator-in- Charge of the U.S. National Meteorite Collection. He became an active member of the Meteoritical Society, serving as Secretary of the Society from 1967-1970. He played a pivotal role in the acquisition of the Allende meteorite in 1969, traveling to Mexico to acquire thousands of individual stones. He returned for his PhD later in life studying at George Washington University, where he graduated in 1976. At almost the same time as earning his PhD, Roy would be involved in the contentious legal acquisition of the Old Woman meteorite, which would become the largest single meteorite in the Smithsonian’s collection and, coincidentally, was a coarse-structured iron meteorite rich in phosphorus. Roy played a pivotal role in the formation and management of the U.S. Antarctic Meteorite Program, a cooperation between the Smithsonian, NASA and the NSF. Upon retirement, Roy’s interests turned to the history of meteoritics and the history of The Meteoritical Society. This led to a series of papers about meteoritics at the Smithsonian among other topics. Roy did an outstanding job of growing the National Collection of meteorites, and provided countless outside investigators with material for their study. In 2014, he was awarded The Meteoritical Society’s Service Award. Roy was preceded in death by his wife Grace and survived by three daughters and numerous grandchildren. A memorial service is being planned by the family.

Categories: In Memoriam