Former Fairbanks resident Donald John Grybeck passed away Aug. 24, 2012, at his home in Port Ludlow, Wash.
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He was born July 18 1936, in Fort Wayne, Ind., to John and Lillian Grybeck.
Even as a child, Don dreamed of going to Alaska. After high school, he joined the Army and was deployed in Korea during the second and third years of the Korean War.
Don earned his Bachelor of Science degree in geological engineering from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1963, and earned his Ph.D in geological engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 1969. Don met fellow student Ellen McGregor while at CSM, and they married in 1969. They moved from Golden, Colo., to Fairbanks with her son, Murphy, in 1970.
Don was a professor at University of Alaska Fairbanks from 1970 to 1975, teaching economic geology, structural geology, mineralogy, field camp and geology of Alaska. As a professor, he was a strong advocate for students, especially women and minority students. His family grew during this time with the addition of Michele in 1971, and Mary (Jenny) in 1974.
Don joined the U.S. Geological Survey full time in Anchorage in 1975, working on the Tracy Arm - Fords Terror Wilderness mineral assessment and leading a two-year regional assessment of the Brooks Range. He lost his adopted son, Murphy, to a boating/gun accident in 1975.
In 1979, the family moved to Reston, Va. Serving as the associate chief of the USGS Mineral Resources Program, Don was heavily involved in representing Alaska minerals interest during ANILCA (1981) debate and was Acting Chief of Program for six months. In 1984, he returned to Alaska and later became Chief of the Branch of Alaskan Geology. During his tenure, Don initiated a cooperative effort between the USGS and Russian Academy of Science, comparing mineral potential and regional geology of the Russian Far East and Alaska.
In the late 1990s, he worked with the Alaska minerals community to acquire a special appropriations for minerals information work, an outcome of which was the Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF), now the "go-to" source for minerals information on Alaska. Don continued to work passionately on ARDF after his retirement and a move to Washington state in 1999.
Don presented many talks during his career about the history of the USGS and exploration of Alaska and was a senior author of more than 30 publications about Alaska geology. A teacher at heart, he loved sharing his interest in geology with kids as well.
His hobbies included reading, guns, carpentry, photography and boating. Don passed on his love of the outdoors to his daughters, and his sense of humor and great laugh will be missed by all who knew him.
He is survived by his two daughters, Michele Grybeck of Boulder, Colo., and Mary (Jenny) Grybeck of Atlanta, Ga.; his sister and niece, Joan and Nia Willams, and his former wife, Ellen Grybeck, of Bellingham, Wash.
A small family memorial service was held at his Port Ludlow home on Sept. 5, 2012. Don will be remembered Nov. 8, 2012, during history night at the Alaska Miners Annual Convention in Anchorage.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Nov. 2, 2012