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Sad News In The World Of Fossil Collecting: The Passing Of Don Smarjesse

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Last night, a friend informed me of the passing of Don Smarjesse and asked me to post this obituary:

Don Smarjesse of Novi, Michigan died early this April after a long passage through Alzheimer's disease.

Don operated Earth Enterprises for around two decades selling fossils primarily from Devonian quarries in Sylvania, Ohio and Milan, Michigan, along with mineral specimens from the latter locality. At M.A.P.S. and the Denver and Tucson shows, Don did a brisk business offering trilobites, crinoids and brachiopods along with beautiful sulphur and celestite crystals, all of which he personally collected and carefully prepared.
People liked Don and Don reciprocated. He had a genuine and entertaining personality which was a source of delight across a spectrum of intimates, customers and chance acquaintances. We will miss that trademark conviviality, stories which never aged by retelling, his humor and those colorful verdicts indicating certain vexatious people somehow failed to offer ongoing evidence for human evolution.
Though his illness put him beyond contact for some time now and his collections have been dispersed, his character as a man and sturdy friend will remain touchstones of our conversations. Don's widow and devoted caretaker Gayle survives him.
I knew Don too. What I remember about him is that he used to share a room in Tucson with a couple of other guys. They were there to sell fossils and minerals but they also wanted people to feel welcome and free to join their conversation even if they weren't going to buy anything. Some people are all-business and shut up when people they don't know enter the room. In the Earth Enterprises room it was like there was a friendly talk show going on all day.
The thing about the Tucson shows is that they have been spread out around the city since at least the late 80's. Sometimes, it was (and still is) easier to walk from one place to another, even if it was a bit of a hike (2-3 miles), because of the limited parking at some of the venues especially if it had rained hard the day or two before. It was nice to take a break and shoot the breeze with those guys. I think Don stopped setting up at shows around 2000. The shows seem to have gotten a little more impersonal since then.
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My condolences to his family and friends. Sounds like his generous sharing of knowledge and welcoming nature will certainly be missed in the fossil collecting world.

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Yep sounds like a great easy to get along with fellow.

My condolences to his family, and all his friends.

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