2016 Lenhart J.H. Grothe Resources award winner
Donald Grybeck `64
Studying and teaching about Alaska’s geology sustained Don Grybeck’s long and accomplished career. Don’s nickname was “Grizz,” which reflected his large stature and sometimes “blustery” personality, but he is remembered as a compassionate, humorous man with a great laugh.
Born in Indiana in 1936, Don dreamed as a child of going to Alaska. After serving in the Korean War, he enrolled at the University of Alaska in 1958. Summers, he worked as a surveyor for the Bureau of Land Management, a field geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey and a miner at Red Devil on the middle Kuskokwim River. Don graduated from UA with a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering in 1963. He continued to work summers for the USGS until earning a doctorate in 1969 at the Colorado School of Mines. While there, he married fellow student Ellen McGregor. She had a son, and they later had two daughters.
After graduate school, the family moved to Fairbanks, where Don taught at UA from 1970 to 1975. He then joined the U.S. Geological Survey in Anchorage and worked on mineral assessments in Southeast Alaska and the Brooks Range.
In 1979, Don became associate chief and then acting chief of the USGS Minerals Resources Program at the headquarters in Reston, Virginia. He was heavily involved in providing minerals information to Congress during debate over the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
Don returned to Alaska in 1984 to lead the USGS Alaska geology branch during the height of the Alaska Mineral Resource Assessment Program. In the late 1990s, he and Alaska’s miners secured money to create the Alaska Resource Data File, the “go-to” source for minerals information in Alaska. He continued to work on ARDF after retiring and moving to Washington in 1999.
Don passed away in 2012 at his home in Port Ludlow, Washington.