I was pondering an appropriate memorial post for Sally Donovan when I stumbled across this sketch at the museum.
Sally Donovan was one of those people whose contributions to our community will never be fully appreciated by most who live here. If you think Hood River is a charming community with a vibrant and historic downtown, you have Sally to thank for that. If you enjoy looking at the old photographs at this website, you have Sally to thank for that. If you enjoy living in a community that values its history, you have Sally to thank for that.
Sally was instrumental in identifying and preserving Hood River's historic architecture. She worked tirelessly to see the creation of the Downtown Historic District in the 1990s, and consulted with the city's Landmarks Board for years after that. She served on the Museum Board, and last year she gave us her meticulous notes and 35mm slides from her historic district surveys. I have posted several of her slides before. Her photos and her historic district surveys are valuable research tools available to the public. I refer to them all the time while preparing these blog postings.
Sally also transformed the museum's photography collection. She created the classification nomenclature for the collection, and then applied it to thousands of images. Matt and I used Sally's schema as we digitized the collection. I'm not sure we would have tackled making a digital version if Sally hadn't already created order out of the chaos.
The backs of the museum photos are full of notations in many hands. Much of the information on the photos is of questionable validity. One day Sally and I were discussing the difficulty of divining history from the questionable sources on the photos. The engineer in me spoke before the politician could edit. I told her how much I appreciated seeing notes in her handwriting because I found them to be 80% accurate. She laughed, knowing me well enough to know I intended it as high praise. History is hard, and much of what we "know" is based on scant evidence, much of it incorrect. I try very hard to break 50%. 80% is as close to truth as I believe exists in this field. Sally knew the intense attention to sourcing and verification required for her research to be accurate, and in that moment she knew that I knew.
The next time you walk downtown I hope you will stop and read one of the plaques on our many historic buildings. Appreciate that the buildings are still here and loved and cared for by a community of property owners who Sally helped cultivate and educate. Appreciate that we know so much about the history that surrounds us because of Sally's research. And appreciate that what you read on those plaques is actually true. Mostly.
I learned today that Sally trained as a graphic artist, and as you can see by this pencil sketch of the Dethman house she was quite skilled. The Dethman House is at 911 Oak Street. Mr. and Mrs. Chris Dethman moved to this house from their ranch in 1911, and lived there for many years. Sally sketched the house in 1992.
Category: [Downtown Hood River]
A beautiful sketch and a beautiful memorial with reminders to all of us about historical research.
Thank you Sally Donovan.
L.E. on 30th November 2016 @ 7:41am
A very nice tribute to Sally and I have to add that the research team at the museum uses Sally's documented research of downtown buildings and some residences regularly. I had not seen any of her beautiful drawings as most of our notebooks have photos.
The research team works only with papers, not artifacts, so we are constantly dealing with the issue that Arthur raises about the validity of someones's account of an event. I was struck with a recent book review in the Oregonian that is worth passing along:
Our memories are imperfect, after all, and we color the stories we tell others. Stories are passed around families, changing shape each time. This is the essence of our oral histories and in them we can find the truth of who we think we are and who we want people to think we are.
Fortunately Sally's research is well documented and we don't have to "get into someone's mind" to determine a meaning.
cg on 30th November 2016 @ 8:13am
A beautiful memorial for a beautiful lady. Sally will be missed by so many people. I feel blessed to have known her.
Marilyn on 30th November 2016 @ 8:22am
Ohh, I did not know Sally was gone....,such a wonderful community woman!
James Holloway on 30th November 2016 @ 8:46am
Thank you for being a Driver in my life.
Larry aka Navigator
Larry Larson on 30th November 2016 @ 10:29am
And we can't forget all the work Sally did to bring the feral cat population under control. There are many cats with happy homes that have Sally to thank for their new lives. Without Sally, I'm not sure there would have been a Columbia Gorge Cat Rescue organization. She will be missed in so many ways.
Karen on 30th November 2016 @ 10:50am
I'm grateful to her because without her we wouldn't have our marvelous rescue cat Ginger.
Laurel on 1st December 2016 @ 6:00pm
Sally was awesome.
Jane on 1st December 2016 @ 7:37pm
I receive a newsletter from the Washington State Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation. This was in their November 23, 2016 newsletter:
Sally's works were recognized not only in Oregon, but Washington.
IN MEMORIAM: SALLY DONOVAN
L.E. on 2nd December 2016 @ 7:58am
I feel privileged to have known Sally during her last months. She was courageous, conscientious, warm, fun, and classy. Though I didn't know her well, her passing leaves an emptiness.
AmyB on 5th December 2016 @ 9:51pm
I met Sally & Bruce while volunteering at Luper Pioneer Cemetery. They were both doing restoration work after the cemetery was hit with major vandalism. They did a great job and I learned a lot from both of them. Sally paid attention to detail in the restoration and I was amazed at her expertise and patience. She showed me details in the work being done and gave me advice, which I have used at Eugene Pioneer Cemetery, where I now volunteer. Sally was very friendly and I am honored to have known her. Please give my best to Bruce.
Russ Carey on 6th December 2016 @ 8:28am
I met Sally and Bruce while doing a restoration project at Cherryville Cemetery. I enjoyed all that Sally shared with us and felt she was so special. It was a time I will always hold dear to me. Peace Sally.
And to you Bruce.
Joyce Yam on 18th May 2018 @ 7:53pm