A Man’s Vision and His Bequest
Published:January 01, 1952
On the last day of July in the year one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, a man died in a hotel in Philadelphia—a man who had houses but no home, a family but no wife or child, many acquaintances and friends but no intimates to whom he confided everything. He was sixty-seven years of age, a man of fine physique and commanding presence, who had travelled widely over the world and who had observed much of the ways of nature and of other men. He was a college graduate and came of a family long prominent among the socially elite of Philadelphia, his native city. He was a geologist by profession, and in that field he had attained wealth and honor beyond that of most men. In short, he enjoyed in this life more than falls to the lot of most men; yet he lacked much that most men enjoy.
Early in life he manifested the poise and self-sufficiency which belong only to those who have learned to rely upon their own resources, who enjoy the society of their fellowmen but are not dependent upon them, and who are not encompassed by financial limitations. This self-reliance increased with the passing years, and thus, in the course of time, he became a somewhat mysterious figure in the social and professional worlds in which he moved.But however different from most men he may have seemed to those who knew him only in later life, he would undoubtedly have soon become merely another
Figures & Tables
Life and Letters of R. A. F. Penrose, Jr.
When, in the summer of 1931, Richard Alexander Fullerton Penrose Jr., died in Philadelphia, he left his personally acquired fortune, amounting to approximately ten million dollars, to be divided equally between The Geological Society of America and the American Philosophical Society. As a memorial to its benefactor and as a picture of a period in the history of American geological science, this volume has been prepared by The Geological Society of America. Beginning with notebooks, diaries, and letters in the possession of the Society, and adding thereunto material slowly accumulated from his family, his friends, his associates, and acquaintances, the story of his life has been pieced together. For members of Penrose’s profession, the geologists, this account of his life should have particular interest, for it presents a picture of a period which is gone forever, a picture of conditions under which the early investigators in geology and the mineral industry labored and brought forth the principles and methods of later days, methods more scientific, perhaps, but, nevertheless, methods founded upon the efforts of those pioneers. If one is inclined to smile at the picture of the young man of the 1880’s sitting on a bluff above a Texas river, confronted with the problem of making a survey without knowing how to go about it, let him ask himself what he would have done, similarly unequipped and in hitherto unknown territory. Let the geologist of today, with his carefully prepared field equipment, ask himself just how well he would like to look forward to “living off the country”, as Penrose did in the early days in Arkansas. It speaks volumes for the stamina of any man to be able to confront uncomfortable conditions with the nonchalance which Penrose displayed. And how much more to his credit this is, when a man is endowed by birth, position, and economic security so that he need never have left the comforts of urban living in Philadelphia.