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New Scholarship Fund Memorializes Alumnus, Supports Western’s Aspiring Geologists

Students and their professor use hand lenses to examine a rock during a geology field trip.

Western Colorado University is proud to announce the Gary Christopher Memorial Geology Scholarship, started as a testament to a remarkable alumnus and a lifelong student of geology.

Gary Christopher (’67) was a geologist and longtime Gunnison resident who lived a life devoted to his love for rocks and mining. After serving in the Vietnam War, he spent the majority of his life exploring the West Elk Mountains and areas around Crested Butte. His dedication led him to stake at least 24 mining claims for gold, silver, lapis, uranium, and other minerals.

Gary Christopher uses a pickaxe outside of a mine.After his passing, Gary’s family reached out to the Western Geology department to help inventory and organize his impressive rock collection. His niece, Cynda Wright, said that seeing the students’ enthusiasm for the collection mirrored Gary’s passion and appreciation for geology and mining. Cynda and her family were moved to establish a scholarship in his memory to support geology students at Western for years to come.

The Gary Christopher Memorial Geology Scholarship Fund was established by Cynda Wright, Thomas Wright, Martin Wright, Susan von Finckenstein, and Mary Anne Wright with the hopes of supporting aspiring geologists. The scholarship will be awarded annually to provide financial assistance to two students pursuing a degree in Geology at Western with a preference for students interested in careers in mining.

“Gary Christopher’s legacy is one of passion, dedication, and a deep love for geology. Through this scholarship, we aim to inspire and support the next generation of geologists who share Gary’s enthusiasm for exploring the Earth’s natural resources,” Brad Burton, Western’s Rady Chair in Petroleum Geology, said. “It is our hope that recipients of this scholarship will carry forward Gary’s legacy, contributing to the field of geology in significant ways.”

Western invites alumni, friends, and supporters to contribute to the Gary Christopher Memorial Geology Scholarship Fund. For more information or to make a contribution, please contact Western’s Advancement Office or visit western.edu/elevate.

The scholarship application is closed for the 2024-25 academic year, but interested students are encouraged to check for 2025-26 scholarship details when they become available near the end of the Fall 2024 semester.

Author Credit: Seth Mensing
Photo Credit: Courtesy

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