From Executive Director and Chief Historian, Ted Wachholz:
“I never realized how much I look like her,” she said to me. “I have her nose, her smile, the shape of her face. Everyone tells me that I also have her personality – bubbly, silly, and fun.”
These words were spoken by our daughter Meredith, now 29, about her great-grandmother "Nana" and Eastland Disaster survivor, Borghild “Bobbie” Aanstad (both pictured below at Christmas 1986). Meredith had known "Nana" only in the last few years of her life before she passed away at the age of 90. Our family stories, photos, and videos still keep Bobbie’s memories alive in our family.
As the years passed and Meredith grew to be in her teens and early 20’s, she came to Eastland Disaster presentations, helped stuff envelopes with us, and tagged along to yearly commemorations. But she admits now that she was apathetic then about the history of the tragedy, her great-grandmother’s role in it, and our organization’s efforts to preserve the legacies of the thousands of lives affected by this Disaster. Only recently has Meredith come to realize how deep and profound the survival of her ancestors is to her. Something about the Eastland Disaster and Bobbie’s story “clicked.”
The Eastland Disaster Historical Society has always focused on preserving the stories of those involved in the Disaster – from victim to survivor to hero. For 16 years, people from across the country have contacted us asking for information about the tragedy, and – more often than not – about their family/ancestors. The same curiosity and passion that our daughter has is now beginning to grow with the new generations. And if we can continue preserving the legacies, telling the stories, and uncovering more information about those involved in that fateful day, we know that our organization will be able to provide valuable information to future generations. This will ensure that the Eastland Disaster never becomes a footnote or anecdote in our nation’s historical consciousness.
EDHS has been very busy lately building capacity so that each generation will grow to help us preserve this legacy. We have been working non-stop on our new website, giving presentations, working on three different outdoor memorials, and traveling to meet with numerous partners – all in preparation for next year's 100th anniversary commemoration.
We are about to close the book on 2014, and we are excited to launch into 2015. But we need your help to do so. Now, more than ever, EDHS is asking our loyal supporters to help us build capacity and enhance our reach so that our research and operations can continue beyond the 100th anniversary.
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation of $100 ($1 for each year since the tragedy), $84.40 ($.10 for each victim), or $25 ($.01 for each passenger).
Our past 16 years have built an incredible foundation for the future, and your generous support is key to the success of our shared mission and goals. Won’t you please join us and continue your support today? Thank you for being part of our 16 years.
Wishing you a blessed holiday and New Year,
Ted Wachholz, Executive Director & Chief Historian