Flux Mine - Photo by BM
Bill Lawrence
  • 56 years old
  • Date of birth: Jun 11, 1957
  • Date of passing: Oct 9, 2013

Do not grieve. Misfortunes will happen to the wisest and best of men. Death will come, always out of season. It is the command of the Great Spirit, and all nations and people must obey. What is past and what cannot be prevented should not be grieved for. . . . Misfortunes do not flourish particularly in our lives - they grow everywhere.

Big Elk, Omaha Chief

Grandfather says that when your friends die you must not cry You must not hurt anybody or do harm to anyone. You must not fight. Do right always. It will give you satisfaction in life.

Jack Wilson, Paiute
 "Native American Wisdom Quotes X" - NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia 2014.

My heartfelt thanks to Brian Kosnar and Bryan Swoboda for the wonderful gift of the Video of Bill's Celebration of Life.  Their love and respect for Bill is expressed in every second of this video.  Thank you both for letting me share Bill's Celebration with his friends around the world. http://youtu.be/fZpIkwr9wdU

The Arizona State Museum at The University of Arizona hosted the Celebration of Life for Bill on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 6:00pm at the Arizona State Museum on the University campus.  The event was attended by over 120 friends and family and truly celebrated Bill's remarkable life.  Special thanks to Darlene Lizarraga, Patrick Lyons, Michael Brescia, Sandra Um and Georgine Speranzo of ASM - with your love and support, everything from start to finish was just as we envisioned it would be.  Our heartfelt love to our "family" - Pamela and Larry Castle, Kim Gonzalez, Robert Clements, Doug Robinson, Greg Holland, Bridgett Kana, William Dawson, William Almon, Al Hunter and Bob Jones - your support and love were our pillars of strength.  Special thanks and blessings to Marvin Todacheenie (Navajo) and Brenda Jones (Tohono O'odham) for your songs and prayers of honor and blessings for our family and guests.  And, to our guests - words can not adequately express our love to you for attending the Celebration and showing how much you truly cared about Bill.

In Memoriam: William “Bill” Lawrence (1957–2013)
Rocks and Minerals Magazine - March/April 2014

I think the consensus of opinion among most people about how they would want to "go" is usually expressed as "while doing something I love."

Although it sounds good, when it happens to someone we know, someone we love, someone we respect, well, it is just not "good" anymore. Doing something he loved took the life of William "Bill" Lawrence on 9 October 2013. While collecting near Benson, Arizona, Bill was the victim of a massive cave-in. The details of this accident are too tragic for me to even describe, so let me concentrate on a man of exceptional passion and knowledge.

All of us in the collecting community knew Bill as part of the incredibly hard-working team of the The Rocksmiths, Inc., who for so many years were dealers at more shows than we can even list. Bill married into this team when he took Jaye Smith as his wife in 1985 following a rollicking pre-wedding party at the old Sheraton Hotel in Tucson. Jaye's parents, Eldon and Jean Smith, had been mineral dealers since the 1970s and lived on a ranch in Tombstone, Arizona.

Bill was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but his family moved to Houston, Texas, in 1960. His dad was the team coach in the high school where Bill played baseball and football. Always curious, Bill joined the Houston Gem and Mineral Society at age ten, and his dad cheerfully accompanied him on all the field trips. At first it was just "rocks"-any rock would do-and then on one of his field trips he actually found what could be called a mineral specimen. That was all it took, and, like so many of us, the thrill of the find spurred him on to spending as much time as possible in the field. Bill also always attended the local mineral shows, which was where he first met Jaye and her parents.

Yes-wait for it-I always have a love story to tell. Imagine a young man standing outside the booth watching a young woman actually talking about specimens, collecting, and all things "mineral." It was inevitable that there had to be a first date, and, this being Houston, where but a country-western bar to dance the night away. What followed was lots of correspondence back and forth, phone calls, and dates whenever the Rocksmiths came into town for a show. Knowing Bill, I like to think it was his contagious excitement about minerals and other collectibles that impressed Jaye's parents when the official meet-the-parents visit was made, but it could very well have been the stunning gourmet meal that Bill prepared for them. And he was a true "foodie"-he could look at a recipe, close the book, and then go about preparing it his way, to no one's disappointment. (I hope Jaye remembers how to make the delicious cactus juice margaritas he prepared for me!)

Bill attended Louisiana State University and Texas A&M, where he majored in geology. He began his career at Superior Oil Company doing thin-section work. His attention to detail, quality, and accuracy brought him to the attention of Robertson Research, based in England (it is now Fugro), and he was hired as manager of the Reservoir Geology Lab and was in charge of all SEM and thin-section work. When Robertson shut down its lab operations in Houston in 1985, it seemed like a crisis was looming: newly married, no job, and no prospects. Thus, he took to the road with the Rocksmiths, which, as we all remember, meant a show every weekend in every part of the country.

Then a job interview with Texaco (thanks to Emily Stout!) was so successful that it afforded Bill the opportunity to move quickly through the ranks and eventually to the position as manager of its Thin-Section Lab and Core Lab. When Texaco and Chevron merged into one giant company, he worked in the Drilling Cement Lab until there was an opening back in the Reservoir Geology Group managing worldwide core; he eventually became head of the eSEM lab and was responsible for all eSEM work for Chevron units and partners. Bill was co-contributor on many external and internal Chevron-produced geologic reports. (And to the professor who once suggested that Bill would never be a good geologist and should find another profession: perhaps you, professor, might want to seek another profession.) After twenty-eight years with Texaco and Chevron, Bill retired early, at age fifty-five, in 2012.

Some years before that, Eldon and Jean Smith had moved from their ranch in Tombstone to a house in the rural saguaro cactus-filled area outside of Tucson to enjoy their now-retired life. When the land next to theirs became available, Jaye and Bill bought it, and Bill began to design and plan their dream house for their own retirement.

During their years together, Bill and Jaye traveled the world in search of minerals, and Bill was never without a camera to document the trips-a walk across the frozen Volga River, the ice caves in Iceland, the five-day horseback ride on the Pena Trail, the race-car driving schools-he lived such an eventful and fun-filled life. Even while working at Texaco, Bill would catch the redeye on Friday nights to meet up with Jaye wherever she was working a show and then fly back again on Sunday nights, ready for work the next day. Talk about a frequent flyer!

From 2008 to 2010 (when the house was completed), they worked together on the house and made certain it matched their expectations for the fit and placement of their many collections. When Bill retired, they moved in permanently. And a house full of collections it is; not only Bill's beloved self-collected minerals, but pottery, artwork, a Texaco-specific room filled with company memorabilia, and so much more. One thing that was not left out was the big gourmet kitchen for Bill. The stone walls around the house were put in place, rock by rock, by Bill and Eldon.

This brings us to the famous beard and mustache! Certainly, there was a lot to notice about Bill, but the facial hair gave us all a chuckle because only Bill could pull it off. Somehow it suited him, and I could not imagine him any other way.

Bill obtained a Mine Safety and Health Administration's (MSHA) certificate with a particular purpose in mind: to collect at the Freeport McMoRan properties with fellow Tucsonian collector Stan Esbenshade. I am sad that this never happened, but I would guess that Stan will pick up a good specimen at one of the properties and have Bill in his thoughts.

A man of many tastes and talents-race-car driver, award-winning photographer, published author, highly successful field collector, master of wit, gourmet cook, caring family guy-I hate to say goodbye to someone like this. Remember him well ….

Dona Leicht and her husband, Wayne, have owned and operated Kristalle in Laguna Beach, California, since 1974.

Note from Jaye: All my love to Dona Leicht and Marie Huizing for such a touching and uplifting memorial to Bill.  Thank you seems so inadequate.

May the stars carry your sadness away, May the flowers fill your heart with beauty, May hope forever wipe away your tears, And, above all, may silence make you strong.

Chief Dan George

Hold on to what is good, Even if it’s a handful of earth. Hold on to what you believe, Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself. Hold on to what you must do, Even if it’s a long way from here. Hold on to your life, Even if it’s easier to let go. Hold on to my hand, Even if someday I’ll be gone away from you.

A Pueblo Indian Prayer
"Native American Wisdom Quotes – Article 11 – 20" NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia 05 Jan. 2014.

Images of William T. Lawrence used on this website are the intellectual property of the William T. Lawrence Estate and can not be reproduced or used publicly without the expressed written permission of Jaye Smith. 

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Josie Middleton on 9th October 2016

"2 years, to me Bill and I told jokes and one liners traded them back and forth at the Austin Show. I miss his full on belly laugh and just his presence."

This tribute was added by Shivaya Castle on 9th October 2016

"Still love you Beeeyullllll!  We will moon again someday"

This tribute was added by Haven Andrist on 12th June 2016

"Not a day goes by where I don't think of you ...... Love and miss the hell out of you "dad" ......"

This tribute was added by Jaye Smith on 10th October 2015

"From Kim Gonzalez: I drive by the Briarpark (Chevron) facility and remembered all the times Bill would bring me samples from you. He always had that twinkle in his blue eyes when he would talk about what you two would be doing and tell me how much he worried about you. Then I drove by Palanque and remembered the margaritas the both of you enjoyed. I still miss those times and the both of you. I think if you everyday and Miguel and I both can't believe two years has gone by.... Forever missed!!! Forever loved"

This tribute was added by Shirley Crabtree on 10th October 2015

"Two years already?  Time passes quickly, but memories of those we love and miss never fade.  I do miss you and think of you often."

This tribute was added by Haven Andrist on 10th October 2015

"Getting ready to do a show in NorCal this weekend ....... Don't know how many shows we all did together over the years ...... I think about the roast we cooked in the room in Austin , the adventures at Epcot Center , even all the times he and I snuck away to mess with out sports cards and pissed off "sis" because he was supposed to be working ...... Miss him everyday ......"

This tribute was added by Jaye Smith on 9th October 2015

"2 years ago today, my Sweet Willie kissed me goodbye (twice!) and left for a destiny that has changed all of our lives forever.  Those kisses I will hold with me forever as they seem like yesterday.  Keep remembering the happy times as that is what keeps us going."

This tribute was added by Jaye Smith on 15th February 2015

"30 years ago today, in Spring, Texas, I married my forever soul mate.  While I miss so much his physical presence, I know his memories will stay with me forever. My love and special thanks to all of my friends who continue to honor Bill for the wonderful person he is and will always be remembered for."

This tribute was added by Jaye Smith on 27th November 2014

"Thanksgiving Day 2014 - When someone as special as Bill leaves your life, it is hard to understand what there is to be thankful for left in your life.  I am thankful for the privilege to have spent 29 years of my life with one of the most incredible, smart, fun loving and caring persons I have ever known and I am especially thankful that it was me he chose to spend those 29 years with. I am thankful for the memories we have shared together. And, I am thankful for the wonderful legacy Bill left behind for others to benefit from."

This tribute was added by Haven Andrist on 9th October 2014

"Miss and Love ya "Dad" ....... you were truely one of a kind !"

This tribute was added by Shirley Crabtree on 30th April 2014

"It is the custom in our church to place Easter Lillies around the altar in honor or memory of loved ones.  A lilly was placed this year in memory of my dear friend, Bill."

This tribute was added by Haven Andrist on 17th March 2014

"Hey "Sis" , so very heartbroken and saddened to hear about "Dad" ..... I often think of some of our "adventures" over the years , whether it was swealtering in the heat at the Stillwater federation show or you and I picking up a fairly intoxicated "Dad" at the Orlando Airport , or even where he got his "nickname" that I called him by from that day forward in Oklahoma City , I loved him like he was my Dad , and you guys have been and will always be family to me. I love you all , and if I can do anything , just drop me a line ."

This tribute was added by Joan Eerkes on 27th February 2014

"i did not know Bill, but truly know your pain.
You will be in my thoughts an prayers."

This tribute was added by Christine Meier on 21st February 2014

Our deepest condolences to you.  Eric and I just found out.  We were very fond of Bill and enjoyed working some of the same shows.  May you find strength and comfort in your memories.  
Eric and Christine Meier (Broken Back Minerals)"

This tribute was added by Jaye Smith on 15th February 2014

"Today, February 15, is our 29th Wedding Anniversary.  I remember how you used to buy these oh so expensive Filet Mignons and cook dinner on our anniversary.  And, the beautiful roses you always bought for me the day before.  I miss you so much and today is especially hard."

This tribute was added by Karen Cesar on 24th January 2014

""A friend is one to whom one can pour out all the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keeping what is worth keeping, and, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away."  Arab Proverb

I remember Bill as an enthusiastic volunteer at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. He and Jaye were two of the few volunteers who requested to work in the Arena. I will miss Bill's off beat sense of humor.

Karen and I both wish we had gotten to know him better. Vaya con Dios, Bill

John Cesar"

This tribute was added by Gale Thomssen on 9th January 2014

"Your candle burned at both ends. It did not last the night.
But oh my Bill it cast a lovely light!"

This tribute was added by Teri Birdsall on 16th December 2013

"So many years, so many adventures, so many flats of minerals and treasures we experierenced.  I will miss your smile, your various styles of facial hair ( so fun and unique), your sense of wonder and lust for life.
You were never one to bring us down, but lifted us up with your passion.  There was always something fun going on when we were with you.  
We will see you on the other side.  Save us a dig or two to explore with you.  Love Bart and Teri"

This tribute was added by Pamela and Larry Castle on 28th November 2013

"Dammit Bill we miss you!!!!!!

yer old pals Pamela and Larry Castle"

This tribute was added by Shirley Crabtree on 19th November 2013

"To the memory of a wonderful man who shared his life with us only too briefly.  I remember your contageous smile and the way your eyes echoed that smile.  I was amazed by your endless knowledge of the mineral world, and your eagerness to share that knowledge with us who knew so little in comparison. God must have needed a curator for all the jewels of heaven to take you so soon."

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This memorial is administered by:

Jaye Smith
Shirley Crabtree


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