In Memoriam

This page is dedicated to those who gave so much to the Society and the Genealogical Community in General.

In Memory of Jane Harmer who passed away on October 3, 2020

Jane Elizabeth Keatley Harmer, a Campbell resident for nearly 60 years who was active in community affairs, died October 3, 2020 at her home after a long illness. She was 83. Ms. Harmer had a career as a dietician and co-owner of a local company—HM Composite—that provided licensed dieticians and food plans for various institutions in some 15 states, mostly on the East and West coasts. After she and her partner, Victoria Major, sold the company in 2002, she devoted much of her time to supporting the historical Ainsley House, the Campbell branch of California’s CERT program for providing disaster relief, and genealogical research.

Ms. Harmer was born February 18, 1937 in Astoria, Oregon and grew up in Skamokawa, a small town on the Columbia River in the southwest part of Washington state. She was the daughter of Robert Keatley, a dairy farmer, and Eva Keatley, a primary schoolteacher. After graduation from high school in the nearby town of Cathlamet, Ms. Harmer in 1959 earned a degree in home economics from the University of Washington. In the next year, she became a licensed dietician after completing a hospital internship program in New York City. She later added a master’s degree from San Jose State University.

While working in Sacramento as a dietician, she met and married Geoffrey Harmer, a software engineer, and moved to Campbell in l962. It was in Campbell that she and Ms. Major founded their company to provide dieticians and food management services for institutions like hospitals, retirement homes and schools. By law, these organizations needed licensed dieticians to oversee their food services but often did not need nor often could afford to hire them on a fulltime basis. Thus HM Composite hired dieticians as its own employees—up to 25 or so at a time—who then divided their working weeks between two or more institutions, providing both the required part-time oversight and fulltime employment with benefits for the dieticians concerned.

In addition, HM Composite provided food plans, budgeting advice and staff training for its clients, among other services. In 2002 the company was sold, allowing Ms. Harmer and Ms. Major to retire from fulltime employment.

She then became active in community affairs, volunteering as a docent at The Ainsley House, a Campbell home that is on the National Registrar of Historical Places; genealogical research; and the Campbell branch of the Community Emergency Response Team (an international program to supply disaster relief through trained local volunteers).

Ms. Harmer’s lifetime spanned significant technological advancements and increasing opportunities for women. In her first “real job,” as she put it, she worked on the weekends while in high school for her town’s phone service. She sat at the switchboard, located in the living room of the town’s primary operator, connecting Skamokawa residents with each other by manually connecting each call, and placing long distance calls as needed. Calls to Longview, a small city 30 miles away, were rare. During Ms. Harmer’s professional career as the co-founder of a woman-owned business, she used computers on a daily basis. After her retirement she was an avid user of the internet to further her genealogical research and communicate with family and friends.

Jane Harmer is survived by her husband, Geoffrey, resident of a care facility in Davis; son Craig Harmer, a software architect, daughter-in-law Kyoko Harmer, a homemaker, and granddaughter Chihiro Harmer of San Francisco; daughter Stacey Harmer and son-in-law Julin Maloof, both professors of plant biology at the University of California at Davis; and daughter Lisa Harmer, a pediatrician in Campbell who provided knowledgeable and devoted care during her mother’s long illness. Other survivors include her sister Nancy Kuehn of Salem, Oregon and two brothers: James of Pasadena and Robert of Washington, DC.

Interment was at the Fern Hill Cemetery in Skamokawa. In lieu of flowers, Jane requested that donations be sent to The Ainsley House, care of the Campbell Museum, 51 North Campbell Avenue, Campbell, CA 95008.

In Memory of Henrietta “Hetty” McMann who passed away on February 20, 2012

Hetty joined SCCHGS about the time the new Central Park Library opened in 2004. She was already a member of one of Pamela Erickson’s Adult Education genealogy classes and also belonged to a group called Gen Buds (i.e., Genealogy Buddies). Hetty was first recruited by the Genealogy Society to be a member of the SCCHGS newsletter mailing team, and by July 2006 she was the Newsletter Mailing Coordinator.

By the time SCCHGS celebrated its 50th anniversary in May 2007, Hetty recruited her husband Jim to be the official photographer of that event; and she took her first genealogy trip to Salt Lake City, one of the May trips led by Pamela Erickson. She wrote a delightful article about that trip in the July 2007 newsletter. In that same newsletter, then SCCHGS President, Trina Gentry, interviewed her for a Member Spotlight column. Quoting from that column, “Henrietta enjoys being a part of the Society. The meetings are informative and the people are just wonderful. Everyone is so friendly, and their advice and tips have been a big help.” By July 2009 Hetty was elected President of SCCHGS. Soon she established a technology committee and continued helping out with other committees.

SCCHGS Library Staff Liaison, Mary Hanel, notes that one of the reasons that Hetty found everyone so friendly is that she was a natural at making friends. She was incredibly cheerful, and because of her enthusiasm, you couldn’t say no if she asked you to do something. Working on a project with her was always fun. Several of her Gen Buds ended up working on SCCHGS committees or helping with Society workshops and programs.

She loved learning new things and was energized working on projects with other groups that had an interest in history and genealogy. She attended meetings of a local historians group, and she got ideas for SCCHGS programs after attending the Southern California Genealogical Society’s Jamboree. She had SCCHGS working with the Silicon Valley Computer Genealogy Group and the LDS Family History Center in Santa Clara to put on a Publishing Our Work (POW!) workshop, and she staged a special genealogy weekend: a two-day event featuring four speakers from the California State Genealogical Alliance, a Birds of a Feather luncheon, and a library tour and research day.

Charity Trajico, the library’s volunteer coordinator, would also comment on Hetty’s charming personality. She called Hetty “Madame President” and noted that Hetty, when needed, was always good for an enthusiastic volunteer quote, and she expressed appreciation for even the smallest favor done for her by the library.

Hetty fulfilled her desire to accomplish many things for SCCHGS should cancer shorten her life. She was an inspiration to many people, and she will be greatly missed by the numerous people whose lives she touched.

Our thanks to Mary Hanel, Local History Librarian and Staff Liaison to SCCHGS, for writing this lovely tribute to Hetty.

In Memory of Ann Ferguson Alder who passed away on September 6, 2008

Ann Alder served as Society Librarian of the Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society from the 1980s through 2003. She strengthened the genealogy book collection in the library during her years of service and kept up with electronic and computer developments in genealogy. She was also a member of the “Tuesday Morning” volunteer team who walked Oak Hill Memorial Park in the 1980s to create a record of information on tombstones. For her many efforts, she received the Volunteer Recognition Award from the Junior League of San Jose.

Illness prevented her from enjoying the new Santa Clara Central Park Library, but she continued to serve as the Society’s Head Librarian Emeritus and would occasionally visit the library. She often sent flowers for the Service Desk in the Heritage Pavilion that were freshly cut from the beautiful garden at her Santa Clara home.

In 2005 Ann made a major donation to the library to buy books in memory of a beloved brother. The many books bought at that time carry this bookplate: In memory of Francis Lloyd Ferguson III, Survivor of the Battle of the Bulge, 60-year Disabled American Veteran, Life-long reader and collector of books, devoted uncle and beloved brother of Ann Alder.

In recent years, Ann and John Alder moved to Santa Cruz to be near their daughter. In February, an 80th birthday party was held for Ann, and several library staff members and SCCHGS members attended. Her significant impact on the book collection and many other contributions of time are deeply appreciated by the Society, and our sympathy is extended to her family.

In Memory of Sandra Jane “Sandy” Shafer who passed away on July 27, 2008

Sandy served as President of the Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society from 1988-1990, as Recording Secretary in 1992, as Program Chairman from 1995-1997, and helped plan SCCHGS’s 40th anniversary celebration in 1997. She also served as a Library Genealogy Consultant in the early 1990s, and in the mid-1990s coordinated an Irish Interest Group that met at Mission Branch Library. If someone needed help or suggestions with Irish genealogy research, Sandy was the ‘go to’ person. In April 1996 Sandy arranged for Brian Trainor, the Research Director of the Ulster Historical Foundation in Belfast, Ireland, to give a workshop on Irish Research in Mountain View. Sandy was also an author; in 1989 her book, A Garvey Family: from Ireland to Essex County, New York, their descendants and allied families was published by Gateway Press of Baltimore, Md. She also wrote book reviews and articles for genealogy periodicals. She served as a program speaker for SCCHGS and for other societies’ program meetings. In 1998 Sandy passed her certification to qualify as a ‘Certified Genealogical Specialist.’ Her professional genealogy commitments grew, causing her to become less active in SCCHGS. However, she still contributed occasional book reviews and articles to the SCCHGS newsletter and came to special events at the library, including the Society’s 50th anniversary party in May 2007.

Sandy had a great sense of humor - fellow professional genealogist and author Kay Ingalls shared this anecdote:
My all-time favorite anecdote from many genealogists’ travels is the one Sandy told about a research road trip in Pennsylvania (I think it was PA). She was traveling with her cousin and it was about lunch time, so they pulled off the highway into a small town whose name they didn’t know how to pronounce. They pulled into a Burger King and after giving their orders to the clerk, Sandy’s cousin said to the clerk, ‘How do you pronounce the name of this place?’ The clerk very slowly replied: ‘Burrr-gerrr-King.’
Her contributions to SCCHGS and the library were very much appreciated. Our deepest sympathy is extended to her family.

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