The only absolute in the universe is change and, as I sip my morning tea, enjoying this late summer morning, I find myself reflecting on all the changes that have happened during the short 4 years I have had the pleasure and satisfaction of working on the board of the Huntley Project Museum. I’ve felt the despair of losing one director and good friend but made a new friend when we hired the firebrand known as Kelli Maxwell, our present director. She’s added so much energy and organization to our front office. Between Kelli and our curator, Gay Kepple, ideas, events and activities have kept the place moving forward. The displays in the main building are more organized and focused. We’ve finished the Dassinger building, the Chapel had a pew added and, of course, the new Mercantile building we dedicated last year. More recently, the BLM Photos, recently rediscovered and hadn’t seen the light of day for about 100 years, are now displayed in our main building for all to see. Pictorial evidence of the hard work and hardship of our homesteading pioneers.
We've seen several friends grow and blossom; leaving us for larger arenas . When I started our director was Neal Gunnels. Neal first came into my sphere of four years ago when he stopped in to see Cheryl Bowen, a friend and the museum’s volunteer bookkeeper extraordinaire. His sunny disposition and jovial personality brightened the office and we became friends. His service brought us out of a fairly dark time, re-establishing trust and acting as an agent to rejuvenate our enthusiasm. He started our climb to better organization and better service to our community. But all things bad and good end. Eventually Neal’s talents were recognized by others. Those “others” made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, so he, much to our sorrow and loss but joy for his good fortune, moved on. BUT we didn’t lose him completely. While we’re not able to avail ourselves daily or even weekly of his energy and insights, we can do so monthly as he now sits on our board of directors. So we are still able to bask in the sunshine and vitality that is uniquely Neal.
A more current loss to “better things” is our grant writer and friend, Trudie Biggers-Porter. The unstoppable force behind our DAR grant, getting the Huntley Project Irrigation pictures made up and displayed and a myriad other smaller projects that advanced our museum along, enhancing our relevance to the community. Like Neal, her loss hurts but is a promotion for her and a well-deserved one. We are going to miss her bubbly personality inexhaustible energy and the unwavering devotion to professionalism she brought to everything set in front of her.
Change can be hard - death, being the biggest change all, and we’ve lost a couple of cherished board members since I began my tenure. Shorty Mueller was a Project Kid who moved away and then returned and when he did he brought his knowledge of the Project, indefatigable energy and drive to preserve our history. His insights and contributions are sorely missed. Jean Ott, a more recent loss, wasn’t from the Project but her devotion to preserving the history of this area was without equal. She understood the need for preservation and for passing the stories and artifacts down to future generations. In her quite unassuming way she would tackle any job set for her and without complaint. It would surprise no one, I suppose, to know she was a retired teacher and embodied the best of that profession – we were the better for it.
We have additions also … our director Kelli presented us with a new historian, Chauncey Bacon, born June 29th and we’re a bit prejudice, but he’s the picture of perfection – five fingers and toes and a smile (no its not gas) to melt hearts.
If you’ve all noticed that our grounds are looking exceptionally well maintained and dazzling then much credit goes to another addition, Chance. He’s a man of many talents and we are indeed fortunate to have him join us.
Time for my morning musing to end, tea is done and work awaits but I realize how very fortunate I have been to have had the opportunity of serving and working with people who share the same goals I do when it comes to the area I have chosen as home – this Huntley Project. I look forward to new adventures in education and preservation that is the heart and spirit of what your museum stands for. Change may be hard but change also offers new opportunities and I’ll concentrate on those 😉 --- LCML