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GSA Beneficiary of the Pardee and Kelly Estates
GSA Today v.5. no. 9, September 1995

Robert L. Fuchs, President, GSA Foundation

Mary P. Kelly died in a Missoula, Montana, nursing home on November 16, 1994. Her last years had not been easy, in spite of the careful attention of her close friend, guardian, and attorney, Jack McInnis. Mary had broken both hips during the prior two years, and this left her bed-ridden and generally incapacitated. Additional infirmities such as pneumonia and circulatory problems, too often common afflications among the elderly, had taken their toll. However, she had plans for the future right to the end a return to her Philipsburg, Montana, ranch, driving the two cars that she wouldn't let Jack sell, attending the GSA Cordilleran Section 1995 meeting in Fairbanks. These were ambitious plans for an 89-year-old invalid, but Mary was a strong individual and the only descendant of a unique but largely unheralded geologist, Joseph T. Pardee, who died in 1960.

The Pardee-Kelly family chronology, spanning nearly a century, includes such significant events as Joe's key role in the resolution of one of the major North American geological controversies of the twentieth century and the second largest gift ever received by GSA. Joe Pardee's career and the related chronicle of the Pardee family—Joe and his wife Ruby, Mary and her husband Ralph Kelly—are a story of lives spent out of the limelight, quietly and frugally, lives that history has now shown to have been scientifically and financially important to both geology and to GSA. The article by Vic Baker, that starts on the first page of this issue of GSA Today, relates the boiling controversy that for more than 40 years surrounded the Channeled Scab-lands, the Columbia Plateau, the Spokane (Bretz) Flood, and glacial Lake Missoula; this is the scientific side of the story. The singular financial event occurred upon Mary's death, when GSA's financial assets were enriched by the addition of the Joseph T. Pardee Memorial Fund. The income from this $2.7 million endowment is to be used by the Society "for research, study and educational advancement in the field of geology and science."

Joe Pardee was a career employee of the U.S. Geological Survey. He was appointed to the Survey in 1909 and retired in 1941. During 32 years of work, his investigations ranged from glacial deposits to gold deposits, from mine sites to dam sites. Joe Pardee spent most of his career on geology in the northwestern United States, with particular emphasis on Montana. Born in Salt Lake City in 1871, Joe grew up in a mining family. The family moved to Philipsburg, Montana, when Joe was three, and his father developed the Algonquin mine. Joe's education was at Presbyterian College in Deer Lodge, Montana, and the University of California at Berkeley. After college he opened an assay office and operated a gold and sapphire mine, but a growing interest in geology led him to the USGS. He and his wife Ruby moved to Washington in 1909, where the family lived until 1954.

The records indicate that Joe Pardee was perhaps the consummate employee accurate, thorough, versatile, a competent professional, an effective public servant, a clear writer, and a teacher to those who followed. He was at home with both the leading geologists of his day and the ranchers and prospectors he associated with in the field. He fought red tape with a sense of humor, and his reports from the field occasionally ended with a snatch of appropriate original verse. Much of Joe Pardee's career was spent mapping in the Northwest, often accompanied where they wrote and farmed. In 1946 they returned to the family homestead in Philipsburg, Montana. This ranch was their home for the rest of Ralph's life and until Mary entered the nursing home in Missoula.

In their later years the Kellys traveled extensively. Just about every trip ended with an increase in the Philips-burg rock collection. Although neither was trained as a geologist, Mary and Ralph maintained a keen interest in rocks, geology, and landforms. Mary described herself as a geologist "by infusion" as a result of those months in the field with Joe and Ruby in Montana and the Northwest. An example of her writing ability is the memorial she wrote to her father, and which was published in the GSA Bulletin (see References list).

Reflecting on the lives of Joe Pardee and Mary Kelly, it is impossible to establish a point source for the significant wealth that was accumulated over a century. We can only assume it to be a superb manifestation of frugal, hard-working lifestyles at modest income levels combined with careful, conservative, consistent investing. The camouflage was near-perfect, for in their later years Mary and Ralph were considered by the townspeople in by Ruby and Mary. He provided important geological input for the siting of the Grand Coulee and Hungry Horse dams, and he played a major role in the discovery of phosphate deposits. His paper USGS Bulletin 842 (see References list) is considered to be an authoritative and thorough compilation of the ore deposits of west-central Montana. As for his role in the Channeled Scabland controversy, after gradually piecing together the evidence, gathered over a vast area and a long period of time, Joe Pardee reported his conclusions in the 1942 GSA Bulletin paper "Unusual Currents in Glacial Lake Missoula," and orally in 1940. These were landmark findings that brought the final piece to the Channeled Scabland puzzle and allowed resolution of the controversy.

Joe Pardee's penultimate published work was "Late Cenozoic Block Faulting in Western Montana," which appeared in the GSA Bulletin in 1950. This work consolidates the ideas formed during more than 40 years of field work and observation. Joe Pardee died in 1960 and left his entire estate to Ruby. When she died in 1976, the estate was valued at $1.2 million and her will established a trust for the benefit of Mary, with GSA designated as the remainder beneficiary upon Mary's death. In late 1987 Mary and her husband, Ralph Kelly, each set up charitable remainder unitrusts for their personal estates. GSA was again named as a remainder beneficiary of these uni-trusts, in both cases to the extent of a 25% interest. Ralph died soon thereafter, and Mary became the sole income beneficiary of all three trusts. Upon Mary's death last year, these three interests passed to GSA, thereby creating the Joseph T. Pardee Memorial Fund.

Mary Kelly was a journalist, not a geologist, but long summers in isolated Rocky Mountain cabins and field camps with Joe and Ruby had a decided influence on her. Born in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana, she grew up in Washington, D.C. toward the close of the era of horse-drawn carriages and gaslights. The family traveled extensively because of Joe's field work, and Mary returned to Montana to attend the University of Montana in Missoula, where she earned a degree in journalism. She worked many years for newspapers in Montana and Alaska. She and Ralph met in Great Falls, wed, and moved to Fairbanks, where they wrote and farmed. In 1946 they returned to the family homestead in Philipsburg, Montana. This ranch was their home for the rest of Ralph's life and until Mary entered the nursing home in Missoula.

In their later years the Kellys traveled extensively. Just about every trip ended with an increase in the Philipsburg rock collection. Although neither was trained as a geologist, Mary and Ralph maintained a keen interest in rocks, geology, and landforms. Mary described herself as a geologist "by infusion" as a result of those months in the field with Joe and Ruby in Montana and the Northwest. An example of her writing ability is the memorial she wrote to her father, and which was published in the GSA Bulletin (see References list).

Reflecting on the lives of Joe Pardee and Mary Kelly, it is impossible to establish a point source for the significant wealth that was accumulated over a century. We can only assume it to be a superb manifestation of frugal, hard-working lifestyles at modest income levels combined with careful, conservative, consistent investing. The camouflage was near-perfect, for in their later years Mary and Ralph were considered by the townspeople in Philipsburg to be old and poor. True, they were old, but they were decidedly not poor. This is not to say that the Pardees and Kellys were miserly. They enjoyed life, they traveled, and Mary evolved into a supporter of every charitable cause that managed to locate her mailing address.

What is the legacy of these unsung lives that are now concluded? Through the Pardee and Kelly philanthropy, many young people will become interested in Earth and science, and many future geologists will receive direct and indirect financial support during their careers. The Pardees and the Kellys were masters at surprise, and they saved the best for last!

REFERENCES CITED

Kelly, Mary Pardee, 1963, Memorial to Joseph Thomas Pardee: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 74, no. 5, p. 39 42.

Pardee, Joseph T., and Schrader, Frank C., 1933, Metalliferous deposits in the Greater Helena mining region, Montana: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 842, 318 p.

Pardee, Joseph T., 1942, Unusual currents in glacial Lake Missoula, Montana: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 53, p. 1569 1599.

Pardee, Joseph T., 1950, Late Cenozoic block faulting in western Montana: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 61, p. 359 406.

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