Pioneers of the First District Reunion

When we first decided to have this reunion we were wondering whether we’d get even a dozen attendees. And look, we’ve filled this hall. But, to tell you the truth, I’m not surprised at all. I think all of you feel the same as I do. I have been driven with a need to find my connections, for an illusive definition of who I am. Living in California, in my generation anyway, few of us were born there. So, I was always asked “Where are you from?” I always struggled with my reply. I’d say, “Well I was born in Rhode Island, but we moved to Michigan, then we moved to California, then we moved this place and then that place. We didn’t have the small town atmosphere where people knew “your story.” They didn’t know your parents and their parents and on down. They had trouble keeping up with who was living next door. Over the years, we have lost our place, our sense of belonging. As a journalist I’ve covered heads of state, movie and music icons, sports legends, and all the typical news, but my passion was the biographical features. I loved to hear the average Joe’s life story. They’d start out that there wasn’t anything there and then their story would come out. I realized there was always something special that happened to every one of them or some event that was monumental. From a feeble old lady tucked away in an old nursing home who turned out to be a former famous fan dancer to a man who was on the USS Missouri trying to rescue those trapped below with his shoes melting right from under him. 
So, I’ve realized, for me anyway, is that we’ve lost “Our Story,” the story of Where We Come From, Who Are Our Grandparents? All of us here don’t want to forget. We want to share their stories and cherish the legacies that they have given us. Only by remembering them can we truly regain “Our Story.” So Thank You, from the bottom of my heart for being here today. And I invite you back year after year, to share our stories so they are preserved for our descendants.
I also would be doing a great disservice if I didn’t give a very special Thanks to Stacey Givens, without who’s tireless work we would not have gotten this all together. She went above and beyond the call of duty by organizing all the tours, the meals we will have here today, the hotel accommodations for those out-of-towners, and the registrations. All while keeping her head and her never-ending goodwill. Please join me in a round of applause. Thank you Stacey.
I would also like to thank our tour guides: Dan Sullivan and Charlton Queen. Those who joined us yesterday will talk your ear off over all the places they went to and what they want to see next year. I would also like to thank Louise Lynch for loaning us books to sell, Dorothy and Reed Jones for information and picking up the books, Charlton Queen for arranging a tour route.  Also special thanks for generous assistance to Wanda Talbot, Robert Bryant, Grady Givens, and all those who have volunteered their services for this event. I’m sorry if I missed anyone.
Before I introduce our Keynote Speaker, I need to say that meal tickets are available for sale at the table near the door. For those of you who plan to go out, Stacey has printed some maps of local restaurants. Also remember to come back after lunch because we have a couple of surprise presentations and the raffle drawing.
I first became acquainted with our speaker years ago when I was given a gift of the book “Out There In The First District.” I have seen a lot of genealogy books in my day, but was never more impressed with the care and accuracy and deep familiarity with the community as this book. He has published many books before and sense and so many of you here are family with him.  I am thrilled that he agreed to be our first speaker of the First Annual Reunion of the Descendants of the Pioneers of the First District. Without further delay, cousins I’d like to welcome Rick Warwick.

April

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