By Karen Mauer Green, CGSM
I’m saddened to report that the genealogical community has lost another fine genealogist and exceptional individual. Arliss Shafer Monk, CGSM, mother of Birdie Monk Holsclaw CGSM, passed away 27 February 2013, aged 91. She was a lady possessed of a sharp mind, a quick smile, and a compassionate heart. She was a great friend, and she will be sorely missed.
In typical Arliss fashion, she was organized up until the end. She wrote her own obituary, leaving blanks only for the date and place of death. Also in typical Arliss fashion she downplayed significant aspects of her life. For example, she mentions being partner with her husband, “a music instructor,” in a piano tuning business, but doesn’t tell the reader that Bill Monk was, in fact, blind. For years she drove him to his jobs teaching music at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind, giving music lessons, and tuning pianos for clients.
Arliss has been continuously certified since 19 May 1976 (CG #163) and has never wavered in her support of standards, BCG, and genealogical education. Yes, she “qualified as a certified genealogist” as she so modestly put it in her own obituary. However, she did not mention that she “qualified” in 1976, nearly 37 years ago, or that she has been recertified every five years since then.
Yes, she was a founding member of the Weld County Genealogical Society, but that was 40 years ago, and she’s been an active, integral part of the society ever since. As Martha VanDriel, current president of WCGS said, “As we’re preparing to celebrate our 40th anniversary in April, we have continued to look to her for help and advice. Arliss was very much involved in our society and in genealogy research right up to the end.”
She gave countless hours to local and regional genealogical societies and was still actively volunteering up until her death. She had recently moved to an assisted living facility and was talking about teaching beginning genealogy classes to the residents there. When I spoke with her week before last, she told me about a find she’d made on Ancestry that day and discussed my latest projects with enthusiasm. On her last visit to Salt Lake City, in October 2012, her to-do list consisted entirely of pro bono work she was doing for friends. By then she had carefully reorganized all her work on her own families and shipped most of it to appropriate libraries for preservation.
I met Arliss in 1989, less than one hour after I met Birdie. Both mother and daughter have been important influences to me both personally and professionally. I will certainly miss Arliss and our frequent chats, but I’m so pleased that she’s reunited with Birdie (and with Ken, her son who died just six months before Birdie). Her passing is, however, a great loss to our community.
Guest Blogger: Thank you to Karen Mauer Green, CGSM, for sharing her memories and her photo of Arliss at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City last October.