Felix DuPrie (1896-1950) « Michael Byers

Felix DuPrie (1896-1950)

heir to the DuPrie chemical fortune
amateur paleontologist

Born in Indian Head, Maryland, Felix DuPrie gave up his life of ease as the heir to the DuPrie chemical fortune in order to make his mark as a paleontologist. Untrained, with only his money and his sense of mission to guide him, he nearly killed himself and his mother on their way to Arizona. Once he arrived in Flagstaff, however, he learned his new trade quickly under the direction of William Willoughby, who had excavated Gustav Isenbright’s fields at Bone Cabin Quarry, Wyoming. Felix DuPrie is responsible for the discovery or reclassification of several dozen species, including Anomoeodus barberi, named after Mary Barber, who was briefly his office manager. Mary Barber, wife to Alan Barber of Lowell Observatory, was employed in various tasks on the Lightning Creek site during 1929. Lightning Creek can still be visited outside of Flagstaff, though it is no longer an active excavation.

Possibly it is work that he has never really understood—its dailiness and demands and its dependable mild spectrum of success and disappointment. He has been reading some more and this season of study has filled in some of the gaps in his knowledge. But what becomes plain too is the bulk of time required to do anything of value. A man can spend eight years in Mongolia kneeling on the nasty gray sand and bitten on the back of the neck by giant Mongolian armory flies and facing, month after month, the squinty brown Oriental faces of his local crew, then account for his time in three papers totalling thirty-one pages. Well it could be worse. He could be back in Maryland staring out at the ivy or sitting at his table at the Staunton ordering the crab bisque and the champagne and generally waiting for the days to pass.