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Elected in 1998

“For technical contributions in the mining industry leading to new technology for optimal resource utilization and enhanced productivity.”


WILLIAM A. (“BILL”) GRIFFITH, a retired mining industry executive, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (Sections 8 and 11) in 1998 and died on April 30, 2009.

Bill was born on March 28, 1922, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and was raised in the Sioux Falls area, graduating from Canton High School in 1940. His education was interrupted by service in the U.S. Navy (Amphibious Forces) during World War II. He participated in the invasions and occupations of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and in the initial landing of U.S. occupation forces in Japan. He was honorably discharged from active duty service in 1945 as a lieutenant (serving in the Naval Reserve until 1954) and resumed pursuit of a college education at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, receiving a B.S. in metallurgical engineering in 1947. He then studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was awarded an M.S. in metallurgy in 1950.

Bill worked as a research investigator for the New Jersey Zinc Company and as a metallurgist for Rare Metals Corporation of America during the 1950s, prior to serving as research director for Phelps Dodge Corporation (Morenci Division) for 10 years. He then joined Hecla Mining Company and held a succession of positions ranging from research director to chairman and chief executive officer. Under his leadership, Hecla rose from near-insolvency to become the premier domestic silver producer. Following retirement in 1986, Bill remained on Hecla’s board of directors until 1996.

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