One of H.B.'s great citizens, Alicia Wentworth, died on Friday. She was our City Clerk for 15 years, and official City Historian for 17 more.
Without Alicia's subtle guidance when I was young, my life would be very different today. I first met her in 1989. I was taking photography at Edison High School and thought it might be interesting to photograph old buildings around H.B.
My involvement with local history could have ended with that project. However, someone -- probably Connie Brockway -- suggested I talk to Alicia.
Alicia had collected photos of old H.B. for many years, but had only recently been appointed City Historian. She not only told me where to look for the historically important houses, but shared stories about old H.B., and had me do more photography specifically for the City's collection. I mostly photographed places before they were torn out and replaced with condos and stripmalls. It was my first paying job of any kind -- and in retrospect, I'm pretty sure the money was coming out of her own pocket.
But the money wasn't the point. She got me hooked on local history, and it has remained my avocation for all these years. It was only a few years ago that I was given the opportunity to turn it into an occupation and a career.
I knew Alicia's health must really be bad when she told me she could no longer make it in to City Hall. She could not be slowed down easily. Even after she was home and recovering from multiple-bypass surgery, she was able to help me solve a number of historical mysteries over the phone. Like me, she loved her work.
Thank you, Alicia, for all your help and kindness over the years. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm and knowledge, and for giving me a crucial nudge or two in the right direction.
Link: Obituary, Register