AFHS Recognizes Outstanding Volunteers

The Alberta Family History Society celebrated its 30th anniversary in June 2011.  Past president Kay Clarke shared the following words at the gathering to honour several outstanding individuals within our society.

From AFHS 30th Anniversary celebrated June 6, 2011

Over the years there have been some members whose efforts have made a difference to our society.  We would like to acknowledge the efforts of those folks who have done outstanding service with small and large jobs over the years.  We have tried our best to recognize those who actively worked for this society. However we may have inadvertently missed someone.  If you believe that such a person has been missed, please bring that person’s name to our attention.  We are going hang this panel in the library and can add to it at any time.  Also each year we have a volunteer recognition day and we will certainly recognize retroactively anyone at that time.

We would like to recognize George Lake.

George Lake started as a member of the Computer Sig but soon became involved in many of the AFHS activities.  He was the longest serving chair/president and wrote the Board members guide.  George had a through knowledge of the bylaws and their interpretation.  He served with the Board at a time when money was a serious problem leading to discussions of what to do when the society was dissolved.  George, with others, made the first overture to the Alberta Genealogical Society regarding joint events and exchange of information.

To honour George, the Board of AFHS would like to institute the George Lake Award for Leadership.  This will be given when the Board recognizes someone who has shown leadership over a period of time. The award comprises a certificate and a material prize.  A material chosen by the recipient will be purchased by the AFHS Board for the library.

The recipient of the first George Lake Award is Helen Backhouse.

Helen Backhouse

From AFHS 30th Anniversary celebrated June 6, 2011

Helen guided the library through many changes, challenges and a huge amount of growth.  The challenges that Helen faced in some of the library locations include coping with low hanging furnace pipes at Knox United church, finding a location after we were asked to move out of Southminister and the never ending job of trying to make ends meet.  Then when it looked like the society was about to go under for lack of persons stepping up to take leadership roles, she became President for a year.  Helen is truly a worthy recent of the George Lake award.

We would like to recognize Brian Hutchinson.

Brian has been a member of AFHS for some time even although he no longer lives in Calgary.      He is a professional genealogist and as such works hard to see that standards of research are met.  To do that, he has written information on how to get started with your research.  He has been a speaker at many events such as AFHS seminars even after he left Calgary.  He also instituted the Brian Hutchinson Scholarship Award.  This award was designed to encourage great research.

We would like to recognize Bob Westbury

Bob did many jobs for AFHS, with the Program committee and with the Education Committee.  Speakers will remember Bob as he was very good at seeing that they were reminded of the date and time, had all the materials that they needed – overhead projectors and so on, and that they did not talk on and on.  To that end he would hold up card to let the speaker know when his/her time was expiring. He also made sure that they were sent a thank you card.   As an educator he was enthusiastic and knowledgeable to both students and fellow teachers.

We would like to recognize Janet Morgan.

Janet Morgan was an energetic member of AFHS.  She wanted to make research easier for everyone and she succeeded in a big way.  Until her early death, she was the driving force behind a number of projects  including cemetery transcriptions, newspaper BMD’s, and the big one “The Canadian Genealogical Projects Registry” which won an international award.  She was also a leader in the Education Committee, believing that everyone needs to learn how to “get it right”.

To honour Janet, the AFHS Board would like to institute the Janet Morgan Award for Service.  This award will be given when the Board recognizes someone who has given time and effort over a period of time and will consist of a certificate and a material prize.  The material chosen by the recipient will be purchased for the library in his/her name.

The winner of the first Janet Morgan Award is Judie Riddell.

Judie Riddell

From AFHS 30th Anniversary celebrated June 6, 2011

Judie Riddell has been an enthusiastic volunteer with the Projects Committee for many years, collaborating with Janet Morgan and Judy Rempel to transcribe and record more than 70 Southern Alberta cemeteries. Following Janet Morgan’s untimely death, Judie willingly stepped forward to oversee the futuristic tasks involving the Projects Committee. At this time, the computer age was well upon us and Judie’s dream was to see the paper publications of these cemeteries digitalized and produced on a CD format. This wee idea involved hours and hours of reformatting, proof reading and creativity, but the end result was CD Volume I released in 2001– our best seller to date.

Judie’s next challenge was to record one of the largest cemeteries in Western Canada – Queen’s Park, Calgary.  In addition to organizing the recording of the markers in the cemetery as well as enhancing the database with photographs of all the markers, she was, with Lynda Alderman,  instrumental in gaining permission from the City of Calgary Cemetery office to include the burial records for all of the city cemeteries. Judie’s style of merging all this data into one mega database plus digitalizing the information became the standard for the Projects Committee; subsequently there are now 10 CDs and 3 DVDs on cemeteries within Southern Alberta.

In addition to cemeteries, Judie has volunteered for other activities such as Queries, Calgary Crematorium Records database 1937-1979 and compiling the Alberta local histories that are available in the various Calgary libraries and archives. In conjunction with the AFHS website, Judie has submitted the Projects publications and indexes to the cemetery databases, thus assisting family research. In her spare time, Judie volunteers both at our AFHS library and the LDS centre on 17 Ave.

By establishing a firm framework on which we can build all of our future endeavours, Judie is truly a worthy recipient of the inaugural Janet Morgan Award.


We would like recognize Judii Rempel.

Judi Rempel was for many years our web person.  She gave many talks on how to search on-line at a time when not that many were doing this.  She was very knowledgeable about what in the early years of the internet, was available and was more than willing to share this knowledge.  Judii  also set up the original library catalogue.

We would like to recognize Barb LaFrentz.

Barb has worked for many years quietly, in the background, with the refreshments.  She always made sure that the speakers had a glass of water at the podium, something that was very much appreciated.  Barb joined AFHS as one of her relatives had been a member.  Although she has not been able to do much research recently, she would like to continue to be a volunteer.

We would like to recognize Bill Mumford

Bill (Suddie) Mumford was one of the group that started the Computer SIG.  However he did not limit himself to the local scene and was known to the wider genealogy community by his work with his genealogy software programs report card.  Although he was a technical expert he could talk to folks who had no expertise about technology, in ways that they could understand.  He was a person who was very encouraging to new comers to family history research.

To Honour Bill the AFHS Board would like to institute the Bill Mumford Award for Technical Support.  The award will be given when the Board recognizes someone who has given their time and technical knowledge to assisting other members. This award will consist of a certificate and a material prize.  The material chosen by the recipient will be purchased for the library in his/her name.

The winner of the first Bill Mumford Award  for Technical Support is Charlie Hansen.

Charlie Hansen

From AFHS 30th Anniversary celebrated June 6, 2011

Charlie is a longtime member of the computer SIG and AFHS. He has been a member of the AFHS Board and has been a member of the Ontario SIG. His interest in computers began very early, and he has kept up with the changes in technology over the years so he has the tools that many of us do not. Charlie has the know-how and the skills of an educator to help members with computer problems.  He is a person who follows up with questions about how successful one has been with his suggestions. Charlie is a worthy recipient of the Bill Mumford Award.

We would like to recognize Wes Johnston

Wes Johnston was one of the go to guys in AFHS.  He was there at the meetings well ahead of time helping to set up chairs.  As an electrical engineer, Wes used his technical expertise in looking after the sound systems and equipment for speakers for several years.

We would like to recognize Spencer Field

Spencer Field has been another one of those go-to guys.  If a job needs to be done –  call Spencer.  He was out in the cemeteries cleaning off the markers when needed in all kinds of weather.  The ladies who he was working with said that he put up with them in such a kind and patient way.  It turns out that he is a good photographer also.   Spencer knows his way around a computer and has recorded volunteer hours for the last few years.  He has also been available for some of the heavy lifting events in the library.

Congratulations to the Outstanding Volunteers!  More photos here.

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