John Dorr, by Licinio A. Barbosa & Paulo O. Nogueira

This biography was transcribed from an eight-page booklet in English and Portuguese, with no indication of date or author. However, two reputable geologists that I heard were the authors, acknowledged its authorship. They are Aloisio Licinio de Miranda Barbosa, and Paulo de Oliveira Nogueira, both now living in Belo Horizonte.

John Van Nostrand Dorr II (Jack Dorr) was born in New York City on May 16, 1910. He grew up in New York, New Jersey, and New England with summers on Long Island where sailing became a special lifelong pleasure. Camping and canoeing trips in the Canadian wilderness, a summer in the Rockies, and a trip as crew on an oil tanker through the Panama Canal and up the Pacific coast gave him first hand acquaintance with a wide variety of natural systems and processes.

After graduating in 1932 from Harvard University with a major in English literature and no real focus or plan for a career, he set off for a year’s wanderjahr in Austria and elsewhere in Europe, an interesting and educational experience, especially being exposed to the conflicting political and ideological facets of life there. Nazism was just starting. The following year he went to Turkey as chief cook and bottlewasher for an economic mission under Brehon Somervell, then a major. There he met his first wife, Mary Elizabeth Brigham, and thanks to trips into the countryside with Sidney Paige, discovering what was to be his future profession, geology.

Three years at the Colorado School of Mines gave him the basic equipment, a year in the oil patch of West Texas gave him the realization that he was not cut out to be a commercial geologist. He then moved into field and research geology with the U.S. Geological Survey, where he stayed the rest of his career. Coal, tungsten, regional geology, nickel – he was an itinerant young cub moving constantly through the west and Alaska, absorbing from his betters, trying out new ideas and techniques.

In 1941 he spent six months on the Brazilian-Bolivian frontier, studying the largest manganese deposit of the hemisphere. Then came World War II, when he was deskbound in Washington, largely responsible for the Survey’s efforts to find strategic minerals and metals in foreign countries, punctuated by a number of trips for a first-hand look.

After the war: divorce, remarriage to Ann Pierce, work in the West and the iron country; then back to Brazil with a pregnant wife and one of the plum field geology jobs of the Survey, organizing and carrying through a study of the regional geology and the great iron and other mineral deposite of the richest part of Minas Gerais, in cooperation with many Brazilian and American geologists and engineers.

He was fortunate enough to have a role in the early development of the great Serra do Navio manganese mine in Amapa, and helped develop the iron mines of Itabira and elsewhere in Minas Gerais The object was to provide solid resource information that could be the basis of financing and development. He also helped in the early years of the Geological Society of Brazil and the Núcleo of Belo Horizonte He worked with noted Brazilian geologists to establish schools of geology in Brazilian universities, a pioneering effort that led to the present well established profession. He was implementing plans laid by outstanding Brazilian geologists, working with the USGB, University of São Paulo, DNPM, and other entities.

Interspersed with the main job were shorter ones in India and other parts of Latin America, all of which were fascinating and to some of which he could make substantial contributions.

Dorr returned to the United States in 1962. He was appointed the manganese specialist for those USGS and visited all known deposits in the US as well as all the known important manganese deposits in the world except for those in Australia. His work throughout Brazil and elsewhere resulted in more than fifty publications. Of these, the most important are on geology and ore deposits in Brazil as Professional Papers by the U.S.G.S. and in the Journal of Economic Geology and on iron and manganese deposits in general by the International Geological Congresses in Mexico and Scandanavia.

He retired from the USGS in 1975 and spent several months in consulting work in Brazil and elsewhere. Then he really retired, spending a year cruising in his sailboat between Maine and Florida and the Bahamas. The later years were spent in the Washington, D.C. area with many trips to Europe, South America, and elsewhere. He was particularly pleased to have wet his feet and sailed in every ocean but the Antarctic Sea. He was also proud of the careers of his wife and all three children.

He was a member of the following professional societies: American Association af Petroleum Geologists; Society of Economic Geologists; Geological Society of America; Geological Society of Brazil, Nucleo of Belo Horizonte; Geological Society of India; Geological Society of Washington (DC); IAGOD. He served as an officer in several of these. He also was a member of the Cosmos Club of Washington, DC.

Dorr considered that his greatest contribution came from efforts to improve geological education in Brazil by serving on a Brazilian presidential committee, by working with Brazilian students in the field, by helping to select and send young Brazilian professors and graduate students for foreign study, and by helping organize professional geological societies. He received the following awards in his professional career: Honor Award, USOM, 1956; Honor Award, International Cooperation Administration, 1959; Tiradentes medal, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil; Jose Bonifacio Medal, Geological Society of Brazil, 1964; Doutor, Honoris Causa, Federal University of Minas Gerais, 1966; and an honor award from the USGS.

John Dorr died on December 23 1996, in Bethesda, Maryland.”