Goodbye, Ed

Getting things done at the Museum requires a lot of work, much of it done behind the scenes. Fortunately, lots of people have answered the call.

The largest group of workers at the Museum consists of volunteers, most of whom serve with either the Museum’s educational programs, on its Board of Trustees, or as mechanics on its antique farm equipment. Then there are interns and other volunteers of a different kind who help maintain the Museum’s collections while gaining professional training or academic credit. In addition, a number of state and federal programs finance short-term employees, who empty waste baskets, fold newsletters, lick stamps, and keep the buildings in order. Only a handful of workers get paid as members of the professional staff, either on a part-time or full-time basis.

Band from Ripon, California, ca. 1914. Scanned image courtesy of Ed Wittmayer.

This week, the Museum says goodbye to Ed Wittmayer, a retiree and longtime resident of Lodi, who started working at the Museum a couple years ago. Ed brought with him a wealth of lifetime experience doing, among other things, construction work, accounting, and paralegal work. Rumor has it that Ed can also think circles around opposing attorneys unfortunate enough to find themselves on the other side of the courtroom.

Working at the Museum has enabled Ed to put several more arrows in his quiver of professional expertise. Ed has spent most of his time at the Museum working in its archives and library. He has carried and shelved books, helped accession them, and mastered the fine art of digitizing photographic slides, prints, and negatives before organizing them into collections that can be easily accessed. He has also learned how to work with the digital catalog that stands at the center of the Museum’s collections and gained skill at listening to diatribes by longwinded colleagues.

Ed will be missed, not only because of his industriousness and sage observations, but also because of his wonderful sense of humor. It’s impossible to predict when that will emerge, but Halloween seems to provide especially fertile opportunities.

Those of us who work at the Museum want to thank Ed, not only for all of his hard work, but also for his friendship. We wish him all the best with the additional time he’ll be spending with his children and grandchildren. And, yes, we will welcome him back if, as he has suggested, he gets the itch to come back to the Museum a couple days each week.

The San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum welcomes volunteers. Give us a call if you’re interested: (209) 331-2055.

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