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  • I’ve been recording oral histories for Otterbein, a retirement community. The very first interview was Gertrude Bloede, a 99-year-old woman, who never married and spent 30 years in the mission field as a midwife. She served in Africa and at the Red Bird Mission in Kentucky.

    I never met a woman with such a sharp mind. She could rattle off details and names of individuals in Africa like it was yesterday rather than the actual 60 years ago. She was a joy. Her stories were profound and entertaining. And, her laughter was music to the ears.

    Gertrude passed away November 1, 2010. I had hoped to go back and visit Gertrude to show her what we did. I speak about Gertrude when I tell others about this project and how important it is to do oral histories. All of a sudden, this interview, Gertrude’s interview took on a new meaning.

    Her passing is a reminder to me why I do this. I help others tell their stories. I am fairly confident that I am the last person to record a conversation with Gertrude. Oh sure, she talked with plenty of other individuals, but I recorded ours. It is preserved for as long as the digital media can be saved. I sent the family an audio CD of the full interview for their family history, and of course a copy of the photo.

    Every now and then, an event, a transition in the circle of life gives credence to what we do. Rest in peace, Gertrude, and thank you for what you taught me in our short time together and the preservation of that moment in time. I have been blessed in meeting you.

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