Heritage Project Helps Family Dealing With Grief

Early in August (2004) I received a phone call from an acquaintance of mine who said that a friend of her family’s was dying.  The wife of the man dying asked her to begin the process of writing his obituary that would probably be needed soon.  Much information was gleaned from family members but what she was missing was dates and eras in his work history. 

His job for many years was personnel director at the local mill, and many people in town remember him as the man who hired them when they began working for the mill.  So she typed his name and the lumber company’s name in Google to search for anything that might be out there.  The first “hit” turned out to be a list of oral history interviews conducted by students at Libby High School in 1999, and “Frank” was one of the interview subjects.  She called me to see if I knew anything about the interview and if she could get a copy.  The next day when I handed her a photocopy of the typed transcript she was extremely thankful and appreciative for the missing information needed to complete the story of his life.

Beyond the satisfaction a person gets from helping a person in ways that no other person can, I felt a strong sense of relief that the stories and words of this extraordinary man were preserved.  Much too often, time passes before the defining events of a person’s life are recorded for those people who come after them.  What a gift those two senior students gave that family back in 1999 when they sat down and encouraged a man to talk about his life!

Posted by on 09/15 at 08:53 PM
  1. Earlier this year I was working on the Project history, and I wanted a couple sentences of detail about Inez Herrig, the woman who spoke to us at the Libby Field School who served as secretary to the Montana Study group in Libby in the 1940s.

    The only thing Google kicked up was an entire biography, written and posted by the Libby kids. I spent about a half hour reading and thinking about Inez’s life, instead of the three or four minutes I was planning on.

    Such details as her running the Bookmobile for 40 years made me think about what a successful life really is about.

    I love it when the work kids do nurtures the ‘better angels of my nature.’

    Good work, Jeff.

    Posted by Michael L Umphrey  on  09/15  at  10:51 PM

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