Rock Man Leaving Payson

PAYSON PEOPLE

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Clearl "Don" Killgore has been a prospector -- searching for minerals -- since he was 5 years old.

He found his first rock containing gold when he was 9. Now, he's 80 years old and has found hundreds of gold nuggets since then.

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Clearl "Don" Killgore

You've probably seen Killgore around Payson. He's the guy who often sits outside in front of the House of Amethyst, on South Beeline Highway, panning for gold. He's the man who looks like Santa Claus, minus the red suit, of course. He and his wife, LoEtta have worked at the rock shop since August, but will soon be moving.

Killgore said while he was a child, he attended school during the week, but on weekends, he went out digging for gold and gems with his father. He said he met all sorts of interesting geologists and prospectors while at his father's side.

"I got my education from out in the hills, from books and professors at the School of Mines in Socorro, New Mexico," said Killgore.

In the 1940s, he worked as a mining prospector, a beaver trapper and in oil fields.

He also spent a few years in the Army.

By the 1950s, during the uranium boom, he and his father staked 18 mining claims and eventually sold several of them.

He received a patent about 30 years ago for creating a system that leaches metals from low-grade ores, taking valuable material out of rock.

Killgore and his wife are moving to a mining claim near Kingman in a few months, for what he calls another adventure in life. He says he's excited to see what discoveries he can make there.

Profile

Name: Clearl "Don" Killgore

Born: Caddo County, Okla.

Why Payson? "I like it because it's not too hot or too cold; also the surrounding area has a lot of interesting geological formations."

Family: Wife, LoEtta; two living children; seven grandchildren.

Moved to Payson: About 35 years ago.

Luxury defined: Being surrounded by friends, resources, money and doing whatever I want to do.

Personal motto: Always do as the honeybees do -- try to do the best you can with what you have.

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