As Roger Monroe noted in his September column, Norm Kelly recently passed into history. Monroe eulogized his long-time friend for his unique talents. But Kelly’s legacy lies not just in the books, articles and talks that he created about local history; his legacy will grow among those whose interest in local history he stimulated.
To say that “there’s no one left who was born, raised and educated in Peoria to write about the city’s past” overlooks those in upcoming generations. Don’t deny, as well, the impressive efforts of those who’ve come here from elsewhere. Even authors far beyond Peoria have published impressive and highly researched books (and websites) about famous Peorians.
Unfortunately, we’re losing that “first draft” of local history that newspapers used to provide. Norm certainly used and appreciated those collections. Online, Peorians past and present share memories and seek information, showing their strong interest in our history. Archiving such information poses the challenge for such valuable resources as the Peoria Historical Society’s collection at Bradley’s library and the Local History Collection at Peoria Public Library downtown.
“No one” left to succeed Norm Kelly? We mourn his loss, but celebrate those he will continue to inspire.
Marilyn Voss Leyland, Peoria native, Bradley University graduate, past president Peoria Historical Society, history writer and city guide