January 6, 1970

'Desert Padre' Author Putnam Dies at Trona

January 6, 1950

The Ridgecrest Herald
Ridgecrest CA

Amelia Earhart and George Putnam made an unusual husband-and-wife team.

Major George Palmer Putnam, author, lecturer, explorer and a veteran of World Wars I and II, died at Trona hospital Wednesday at 6:05 a.m.

A resident of Lone Pine since 1939, Major Putnam had been owner and operator of Stove Pipe Well hotel in Death Valley.

He was 63 years of age.

Although direct cause of death was not revealed, it is known that Major Putnam had been suffering internal hemorrhages since Sunday, Nov. 27, when he was taken to the hospital at Trona. Late last week uremic poinsoning set in, it was reported Tuesday, after announcement had been made Monday evening that it was doubtful he would survive the night.

He had been in a coma since before noon on Monday.

His widow, Mrs. Margaret Haviland Putnam, told a Chalfant Press representative Tuesday that just last week Major Putnam had dressed himself and had gone for a short automobile ride. The relapse occurred this Monday.

Two sons, David Binney Putnam and George Palmer Putnam, III, residents of Fort Pierce, Fla., had been advised Monday of the turn for the worse, but failed to arrive before their father’s death. They were due at Metropolitan airport in Los Angeles Wednesday evening.

As a former member of the New York publishing house, George Palmer Putnam and Sons, Major Putnam negotiated with Charles A. Lindberg for publishing rights to the famous aviator’s book “We.” Above his desk at Stove Pipe Wells hotel is displayed a cancelled check to Lindberg in the
amount of $100,000 for the book.

A colorful figure, with a career of exploring and backing history-making aviation events, especially those of his wife, the celebrated Amelia Earhart–Putnam was born in Rye, N. Y. and educated at private schools in New York state, at Harvard and the University of California.

He married Miss Earhart, his second wife, in February, 1931 – backed her many flying accomplishments and guided her to world fame that reached a tragic climax when she was lost in 1937 in a flight from Lae, New Guinea to Howland Island.

For many years Putnam held faith that his wife would be found alive, but she was declared legally dead in January, 1939.

As an explorer, Putnam had several notable Arctic expeditions to his credit and was associated with such exploits as Adm. Byrd’s North and South Pole expeditions, Sir Hubert Wilkins flights and the exploration and publishing activities of Roy Chapman Andrews, William Beebe, Rockwell
Kent, etc.

He was born into the century-old publishing house of G. P. Putnam’s Sons and once headed the concern, giving up its direction in 1931.

In 1939 he was kidnapped from his North Hollywood home and found bound and gagged some hours later in an uncompleted Bakersfield home.

He told police two men had tried to make him disclose the author of a book, “The Man Who Killed Hitler,” which he was publishing at the time. He was unhurt.

A prolific writer, as well as a publisher, he was the author of “Smiting the Rock,” “In the Oregon Country,” “The Southland of North America,” “Andree, the Record on a Tragic Adventure,” “Soaring Wings, the Biography of Amelia Earhart,” “Wide Margins,” and autobiography, “Duration,” a World
War II book of life in Washington; “Death Valley and its Country,: and numerous other volumes. His latest book, “Hickory Shirt” was a novel of Death Valley in 1849.

Putnam served in both wars, as a lieutenant of field artillery in World War I and as a major of intelligence with a Superfortress outfit in World War II. He saw considerable service in the China theatre.

After coming to the Owens Valley he purchased the stone cabin at the Whitney Portal owned by the late Father John Crowley, beloved padre of the desert. For years he wrote a column of observations for Chalfant Press newspapers entitle “Shangri-Putnam by GPP.”

He had several other books ready for publication, one of which deals with Owens Valley and its struggle for water.

His first wife was Dorothy Binney Putnam. They were married in 1911 and divorced in 1928. Both his sons were born of this union. Putnam was married twice after Miss Earhart was declared dead. In 1939 he married Jean-Marie Consigny, author of “Gardening for Fun,” “Who’s Who in the
Garden,” and other books.