Randy Tufts

PTYS/LPL Graduate Students

Randy Tufts

PTYS Alumnus

Ph.D. Planetary Sciences, Geosciences, 1998, The University of Arizona

Randy Tufts, the co-discoverer of Kartchner Caverns who helped keep the underground wonder a secret for 14 years to guarantee its preservation, died Monday. He was 53. Tufts died at University Medical Center after a long battle with the rare blood disease known as myelodysplastic disorder syndrome, according to a statement issued by friends and family members.

Tufts was born in Tucson and graduated from Palo Verde High School. He went on to graduate in 1972 from the University of Arizona, majoring in geology and serving as student association president. While at the university, Tufts helped create and lead the Arizona Student Services Corp., which founded several student businesses to provide income for student services.

Tufts embarked on a 12-year career in public policy after leaving the UA. He helped lead the grass-roots organization Citizens Take the Initiative and helped found and direct Tucson Public Power, which challenged proposed rate increases of former utility Tucson Gas and Electric Co.

During the late 1990s, Tufts turned his attention to conducting research as a UA planetary scientist studying Europa, one of Jupiter's moons. He is credited with discovering the 600-mile San Andreas-like fault "Astypalaea" on Europa. Tufts earned a Ph.D. in geosciences at the UA at age 50.

He was diagnosed with MDS two years ago, and in November 2000 he received a bone-marrow transplant from his only sibling, Judy Rodin. The transplant took, and Tufts began to recover. Then in late January of this year, his body unexpectedly rejected the transplant and he fell ill.

Besides his wife and sister, Tufts is survived by his mother, Carol Tufts, of Tucson. Memorial donations may be made to the Tucson Light the Night Walk of the Desert Mountain States Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Suite E-100, 2990 E. Northern Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85028.

Randy Tufts, Spelunker Who Kept a Secret, Is Dead at 53
Randy Tufts, 53; Discovered Kartchner Cave Complex
Dr. Bruce Randall "Randy" Tufts
Remembering Randy Tufts

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