Everyone needs a mentor for encouragement and inspiration, whether it's for a career or a serious hobby. I had a collecting mentor when I was young and became interested in coins.
Dealer Larry Whitlow ran the Beverly Hills Coin Shop in Chicago. I can't recall exactly when it started, but I visited the shop soon after my collecting days began. I was all of 11 years old and a girl, too, not your typical coin enthusiast. He always let me look around, browse. I was full of questions, and he answered them all. There were boxes of foreign coins and "better foreign," the foundations of a world coin collection. And there were good finds to be had.
Even then, I appreciated Morgan silver dollars, which were on sale for $1.25. Little better condition, $1.50. One year, Larry gave me a 1904-O dollar for Christmas. Another year, a Brown & Dunn grading guide.
Years later, I caught up with him at a World's Fair of Money and gave him a copy of my coin book. He said, "I will treasure this."
I was sorry to hear of his passing some years ago. If he didn't encourage this little girl to collect, I don't think I would have remained in the hobby and enjoyed it as much as I have.