22 April 2007

Remembering Ken

My colleague and genealogy friend Ken Aitken died yesterday .. the Queen's birthday .. not unexpectedly. He was 59. It was less than a year ago he was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) although not all the doctors agreed, nor how far it might have progressed even then. Ken leaves a legacy in the genealogy world as an active, dedicated librarian and an educator who continually encouraged and challenged genealogists and family historians to "sharpen your saw." He had a powerful mind and passionate ideas. We didn't always see eye to eye, but we always had much to talk about. The National Institute for Genealogical Studies certainly benefited from his great interest in creating discussion groups to study articles from scholarly journals in our field. Most of us last saw him at the OGS Seminar in May 2006. While his health was failing then, he was up to form in lectures and conversation, bubbling with his love of family history. Ken will be missed in many circles, not just in Regina where he worked and his home of Penticton, but also among the international genealogy community he enjoyed so much.

It's a sad thing when familiar personalities are no more. Somehow we expect the leaders to be ageless. Some day I will write about another colleague who was a dear, treasured friend, Ryan Taylor.

13 April 2007


Today was one of those supercalifragilistic days a genealogist gets every so often. Contact was established with one of my missing "Minneapolis cousins." Of course she wasn't missing at all, just minding her own business in Denver and having a life. It's hard to say which of us was more thrilled. I found her by googling and then hours of checking forum messages. Being distracted by the forum's interesting content did not speed things up. It's 18 years since I saw her; 1989 was the last time I visited Minneapolis (time flies even when you stand still).

The preliminary catching up had its sad moments, speaking of time. Both her father and her uncle, the sons of my dear "Uncle" Peter, have died in the past few years. Her brother has taken over their family business.
Kaylynn has the red hair and family similarity to me and my brothers in our youth. She also reminds me of my cousin Heather Dougall Miller, now sadly gone too. The colouring is also popping up among our grandchildren. I was told the red hair has been inherited from our Campbell ancestors ... but more on that another time.