Memorials for Volunteers

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The Minnesota Historical Society’s Local History Services helps Minnesotans preserve and share their history. This blog is a resource of best practices on the wide variety of museum, preservation, conservation, funding, and non-profit management topics. We’re here to help.

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Memorials for Volunteers

By: grabitsdm | December 14, 2009
The sudden death of longtime Blue Earth County Historical Society volunteer Orv Jensen was truly unexpected. When I worked at BECHS in the early 1990s, Orv and his colleague Win Grundmeier were already veteran volunteers, and they did much to educate me about this field. Thanks, Orv, for all you did for me. You will be missed.

Earlier today I spoke with current BECHS executive director Jessica Potter, who both lamented Orv's death and those of other longtime volunteers. For the moment, each retains their mailboxes at BECHS. Jessica is thinking about ways to substantially honor people who spend abundant time as volunteers without permanent memorials affixed to the building that would have to be left behind should the museum ever move and would not be something future staff would have to find room to house (like a bronzed desk), but would be something that staff and loved ones could visit and remember the volunteer and the volunteer's contributions and passions.

How do you honor extraordinary volunteers posthumously? In what ways might volunteer memorialization be sustainable?