Addressed to the Unclaimed Persons - Private group on Facebook (note: if you don't already belong, you'll have to make a request to join):
Happy birthday! Unclaimed Persons (UP) is one year old today! Well, more or less. I went to our old Facebook environment and see that I first posted on June 5th of last year, so this seems about the right date. I am delighted to tell you that in our first year, we have managed to assist coroners and medical examiners in Hillsborough County, FL (Tampa); Los Angeles County, CA; Travis County, TX; San Diego County, CA; San Bernardino County, CA; and Fulton County, GA (Atlanta). All told, we have successfully located family members for 83 unclaimed persons. Because of your efforts, there are 83 families scattered across the country who are no longer wondering about their lost loved ones. Take a moment to let that sink in because it’s rather remarkable when you think about it.
Given that this is our first birthday, I thought it would also be a good time to share some news about our future. I am beyond thrilled to tell you that Skip Murray, Keri Maurus and Janis Martin will be your new leadership team. I’m delighted because I think that Keri, Skip and Janis are an ideal combination to lead UP forward. Among them, they have tons of case experience, outstanding research skills, a contagious can-do attitude, an intimate knowledge of UP’s operations, and astonishing organizational skills. I know that UP’s future is in the best possible hands and will only grow stronger.
As to me, I will be “retiring,” if that’s the right word! As you may or may not know, my involvement in all this is largely accidental. I had quietly been researching cases for a few coroners’ offices for several years, and my RootsTelevision.com (RTV) partner, Marcy Brown, and I decided this would be a good topic for a show. So we made one focusing on a couple of cases I did. We went live with the show on RootsTelevision.com a little over a year ago – sometime last May, as I recall. Once we did this, RTV was inundated with emails from genealogists saying that they wanted to do the same kind of thing. RTV is a small company and didn’t want to become an obstacle or bottleneck to all the obvious enthusiasm for helping tackle an important problem of national scope. I had recently started playing with Facebook and knew that they had some sort of group functionality, so I decided to launch a group there where folks could gather. I think most of you know the story from there. This simple gathering morphed into the organization we have today.
I am very pleased to have had a part in bringing this quiet epidemic to the attention to a large group of people who are in a position to do something about it. And I’m honored to have played a leading role along with Dee Welborn, Terry Elliott and others in guiding UP through its first year. My intention was to create a vehicle of sorts – an environment where people interested in the topic could solve cases that were provided by coroners. I also thought it was important to have a conventional web presence, so I designed www.unclaimedpersons.org and had the site created. But I never intended to run UP, and with the assorted hats I wear in the genealogical world, it’s become increasingly difficult to juggle everything.
So now seems a good time to step aside. UP is stable and performing well, and will only get better under the stewardship of Keri, Janis and Skip. I will assist with the transition, but from this point on, future decisions about UP’s operations will be in the hands of this capable troika!
Thanks to each one of you for all you have contributed – your time, energy, enthusiasm and talents. And thanks for the difference you’ve made in so many lives. You’re all amazing and it’s been my privilege to work with you.