Donald H. Kupfer


(Oct. 4, 1918 - Nov. 20, 2010)Donald H. Kupfer died Nov. 20, 2010 in Powell from complications due to his age of 92.

The son of Cyril and Mildred (Cortelyou) Kupfer, he was born Oct. 4, 1918 in Los Angeles, where he spent his early years.

He received degrees in geology from Cal Tech, UCLA, and Yale (Ph.D.). During WWII he was an ensign in the USNR, serving in Hawaii and Okinawa.

Dr. Kupfer was primarily a “field” geologist, mapping the geology in many parts of California, Arizona, and Colorado — mainly for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). He met his wife, Romaine (Littlefield), who is also a geologist, at the USGS in Washington, D.C., where they were married on June 7, 1952. (They used the sword of Major John Wesley Powell, after whom the city of Powell is named, to cut their wedding cake.)

They were then transferred to Claremont, Calif., to assist in the mapping of the borate deposits of the Mojave Desert region.

In 1955 the family (now with two young children, Madeleine and John) moved to Baton Rouge, La., where Dr. Kupfer was a professor of geology for 25 years at Louisiana State University. He was associated with and directed the LSU Geology Summer Camp, south of Colorado Springs, Colo., for several years. While at LSU he became a specialist in the structure of salt domes, mapping in all six Louisiana underground salt mines as well as studying salt deposits around the world. In 1962-63, as a Senior Postdoctoral Fellow of the National Science Foundation, he (with his family) spent a year in New Zealand studying the Alpine Fault system and its similarities to California's San Andreas fault system.

Among his other honors, he was a “Fellow” of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of Sigma Xi national science honor society, honorary member of the Baton Rouge Geological Society, a member of four regional geological societies, and recipient of the Leverson Award of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

After retiring from LSU Geology Department in 1980, he became a salt-mine consultant, specializing in safe-mining practices and the potential use of salt domes for the storage of radioactive “waste” materials.

He and Romaine retired to Canon City, Colo., in 1983, where they became active in several local organizations. Dr. Kupfer became interested in the history of the local petroleum resources; in particular in the nearby “Oil Spring,” site of Colorado's first oil well, which he helped place on the “Register of National Historic Places” in 1996.

In 2002 he and Romaine moved to Powell, and became active in community organizations (University Club, Geology Club and History Club). At the time of his death, he had published more than 50 scientific papers, many in major scientific journals.

Donald Kupfer is survived by his wife; and two children, John Kupfer in Orange, Calif.; Madeleine Van Epps of Powell; three grandchildren, Stephanie, Heidi and Chase, who attended Powell High School; and two great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Madeleine, and brother Robert, all of Los Angeles, Calif.

Cremation has taken place. Thompson Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements. Memorial contributions can be made to a favorite charity or the Salvation Army.

A memorial service will be Dec. 23 at 3 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Powell.