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.