Logan County Genealogical and Historical Society honors retiring volunteers Bill and Diane Detmers

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[September 05, 2018]   LINCOLN - The Logan County Genealogical and Historical Society celebrated Diane and Bill Detmers retirement from volunteering at the organization Tuesday afternoon.

The Detmers have been traveling from their home in Normal for the past sixteen years to bring their special skills to help people from all over the United States and Europe. They use the extensive resources available at the LCGHS do genealogical research.

The Detmers’ have been the longest serving volunteers at LCGHS. “I estimated once that we put 64,000 miles on our car coming to Lincoln at least once a week for the past sixteen years,” said Bill Detmers.

Before coming to LCGHS Bill Detmers worked in information technology and computers at State Farm, and Diane spent her career at Illinois State University. Both brought specialized skills to LCGHS that were essential to their dedicated volunteer service.

A friend at the McLean County Historical Society knew they were both from Logan County, and suggested they visit LCGHS. And the rest is history. The couple was present when the LCGHS moved into its present location at 114 North Chicago Street in Lincoln.

One of the books that Bill Detmers helped to research.

The LCGHS has a huge store of material on its shelves, more than is currently computerized, and getting it into a computer is essential to efficient research. Bill Detmers set up working computers at the society. The more information he was able to digitize, the easier it has been to do research.

The LCGHS archives are a rich resource for genealogy research. “Bill and I did a lot of technology additions to LCGHS,” said fellow researcher Bill Donath.

Bill has also written a book about his childhood in Emden “Be Careful Crossing the Hard Road” detailing growing up in a small town. But those are just a small part of his contributions to LCGHS.

He has taught genealogical research classes in Middletown, worked on committees that wrote books on residents in Logan County who served in the military, and a book on one room schools in Logan County.

Bill’s main job though has been to do genealogy research for people from all over the United States who want to know about their relatives’ lives as residents of Logan County. “I have done research for people in just about every state and even from Sweden and Germany,” he said.

A commemorative airmail envelope donated to the Society on the Detmers’ retirement day. Diane catalogued it as one of her final duties at the LCGHS.

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Diane Detmers, a Hartsburg native, has been responsible for accepting and cataloguing historical donations to LCGHS. When a request for research comes in, she has been the person to find the correct volunteer to do the digging for answers to family history. She also interviews those requesting research to find out exactly what they want, to make their needs clear. Diane also has been responsible for writing thank you notes to those donating items to the society.

“We have made a lot of good friends working at LCGHS. It has been like family,” said Bill Detmers. Diane readily agrees.

LCGHS President Diane Osborn presents Bill and Diane with a certificate of appreciation for their years of dedication to the group.

“Bill and Diane have been wonderful volunteers, and have enriched the society with their endeavors to serve the public. They have become good friends,” said LCGHS President Diane Osborn. “Bill and Diane have preserved a lot of history,” added author and researcher Bill Donath.

While Bill and Diane are retiring from their weekly drive to Lincoln to help with research, they are still available to do occasional projects at their home in Normal. “I just sent Bill a request for research by email,” said Bill Donath. Their unique skills are still available thanks to the internet.

Logan County Genealogical and Historical Society needs volunteers of all sorts, and particularly those who might do research.

The Logan County Genealogical and Historical Society collection facility is located at 114 N. Chicago Street, across the street from the Lincoln Amtrak Station and the Logan County Tourism Bureau.

[Curtis Fox]


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