August 2, 1936 – February 6, 2020
Charles “Chuck” Trantham passed away in his San Mateo home February 6, 2020 from complications of cancer. He was 83. Chuck was an engineering geologist with a passion for the field in both his professional life and hobbies, staying active as a mineral collector and dealer up to the last year of his life. He leaves behind a legion of friends and fellow collectors who knew him for his humble, self-effacing style and generosity.
Charles Ivan Trantham was born on August 2, 1936, near Koshkonong, Missouri. He was eight when his family moved to the small town of Malta Bend in central Missouri. He graduated from Malta Bend High School in 1953 and enrolled that fall at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Building on a childhood interest in rocks kindled by a great-uncle’s colorful stories of caves and treasure, along with an elective course in mineralogy, he turned to the study of geology. He graduated in 1958 with a B.S. degree in geology, which he followed with a stint at the University of Oregon for graduate studies. During his time in Colorado, he met his wife Audrey Neddo Trantham, with whom he had two children, Charles Michael (“Mike”) and Peggy Lynn Trantham.
From 1961 through 1964 Chuck worked for the Army Corps of Engineers in Oregon, primarily focused on dam safety projects. He left the Corps to join Bechtel in 1964, precipitating a move to the Bay Area, which he called home for the rest of his life. While at Bechtel he was project geologist on several large infrastructure efforts, including the Skookumchuck Dam in Washington, the Centralia coal-fired steam plant, and the Berkeley Hills BART tunnel. Throughout the 70s and 80s he worked for several engineering firms, including Morrison-Knudsen and Harlan Miller Tait, most often on dam safety and foundation studies. His work assignments took him to the Congo and Nicaragua, as well as multiple locales throughout the United States.
Simultaneously with his work assignments, he maintained his mineral collecting hobby, leveraging his time in the field near excavation projects to collect mineral specimens. Chuck started CT Minerals in 1989 and operated as an active mineral dealer until 2019, selling at local and regional California gem & mineral shows as well as the annual international Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. He was an active member of virtually every mineral and lapidary club within ready driving distance, including the Bay Area Mineralogists, Crystal Gazers, San Mateo Gem & Mineral Society, Northern California Mineralogical Association, Sequoia G&MS, and San Francisco G&MS.
Chuck crossed paths with hundreds of people from all over the world at mineral shows, many of whom became lifelong friends and visitors to his home. Whether at home, at a show or in the field, Chuck was unfailingly friendly and humble, willing to help out and share his encyclopedic knowledge of minerals and their origins. Many a young collector at a show walked away from his booth with a free piece of jade or other treasure Chuck shared in hopes of sparking their interest.
Chuck’s wife Audrey and son Michael passed in 2003 and 2009, respectively. He is survived by his daughter Peggy (Mesa, Arizona) and sister Marsella Peters (Waverly, Missouri). Chuck’s remains were buried February 29 at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Waverly, Missouri.
August 2, 1936 – February 6, 2020
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