Eulogy written by Michael Pinch

My Father, William Wallace Pinch, was one of a kind.  I have never met another person like him, and I don’t expect to ever again.  He was, by its very definition, a renaissance man.  Much like other men of similar description, he was self taught, and motivated by his own interests and curiosity, and powered by an incredible aptitude.  A good friend of his recently put together a resume of his accomplishments - it is enough to make anyone feel unaccomplished in what they’ve achieved.  Some highlights

  • Recipient and honoree in naming of the Pinch Medal, for contributions to Mineral Science
  • Discovered approximately 20 new species of minerals
  • Brighton High School Hall of Fame
  • Built the World’s largest privately owned mineral collection - per experts, a collection that cannot ever be duplicated again, for any amount of money.  Thanks to Michael Bainbridge, who is currently doing a book about my father for providing this quote.

Some fun memories of mine that represent typical days with my Dad

  • For Christmas one year, my good friend Matt bought him some used Mineralogical books that he thought he might be interested in.  With a smirk on his face, my father flipped to the back of one of them and found that he was  one of the photographers for the book, done decades earlier.
  • He knew “a guy” for everything - a friend called me one day saying he had a desperate need for a custom engraved pipe made out of a Wooly Mammoth tusk.  20 Minutes later my father a phone number of a guy he knew in Russia that would be a good contact for that sort of thing.
  • While in his final hospital stay at Tucson Medical Center, finding out and receiving in his bed a lifetime achievement award from the 300th anniversary celebration of the Fersman Museum in Moscow. 

The beautiful part about my father is that he had no ego about these things - he like anyone, enjoyed being recognized, but above all else loved to educate and share his knowledge, especially with Children.  Hundreds of children around Rochester were gifted starter mineral collections by my Father, and he enjoyed spending time teaching them about the fascinating world of rocks and minerals, just as much as he enjoyed spending time with the multitude of museum curators from around the world that would visit “The Pinch Collection”.

He met my Mother, Jackie, while working at Kodak, where he worked doing x-ray powder diffraction, while my Mother was working the Summer in the cafeteria.  He carried a flamenco guitar case into the lunchroom, which my mom commented on.  They were married for 47+ years.  They spent their lives in Greece and Pittsford, driving VW Beetles, traveling, collecting, and going to kids events.  My Mother will officially achieve sainthood for putting up with all of my father’s eccentricities and collecting habits, as well as the constant and loving care she provided for him in his later years.
I will always remember his as someone who was immensely proud of his children Megan and Myself, and exponentially so of his granddaughter Elise.  He would eager tell grand stories to anyone visiting him of the accomplishments of his family.  He outfitted Elise with a high power Nikon microscope, and likely The Largest Privately Owned Mineral Collection in the world as owned by a 5 year old. At a young age, he taught me to play the card game cribbage, a game I still credit as sparking my own interest in Math.  He continued to regularly beat me in cribbage until the last time we spoke in his bed at Tucson Medical Center.  We both eagerly let Elise join us in games, and I will make sure that she learns the game in full.  He loved animals, particularly his dogs Lizzy, Daisy, and Reilly, as well as playing with my sister’s various cats and feeding Elise’s horses.  

Speaking of his time at the Hospital, my family and I want to say thank you to both UR Medical Center and Tucson Medical Center for giving us so much extra time to spend with him.  Some of you who knew him well were probably aware that much like his rare collections, he also managed to collect about every possible rare disease and affliction.  We joked that he was the toughest man alive, because no affliction could seem to get the best of him.  The folks at URMC and TMC are amazing people, and we will be forever in debt to them.

One of the things I admired most about my father is that he made his way through life doing nothing but pursuing his passions, each and every day.  Not many people can say that anymore. He chose a direction in life that most people wouldn’t have the guts to do, deciding when he was 7 that he wanted to be a mineral collector.  So clearly he was very decisive, as that pretty much stuck for the next 7 decades.  Looking around the room, there are so many people here that he touched through the pursuit of his passions. I want to thank everyone for coming today, and spending time with us.  We will celebrate his life today, the only way he would have wanted us to - in a big room full of leather bound books, with Cake and Wine.