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A Letter to President Veazey, Community of Christ

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 05, 2009

For background, see this Fox News story. (HT:BCC) The same story at KSL; both stories are drawn from the AP.

5 July 2009

President Stephen M. Veazey
Community of Christ
1001 W. Walnut
Independence, MO 64050-3562

Re: Archivist Ron Romig

Dear President Veazey:

Count me, please, as another of those you may have been hearing from lately who owes more than one debt to Ron Romig for his unexcelled knowledge and unfailing courtesy as your church’s archivist.

In the mid-’90s, when I was taking my first steps into church history beyond the Sunday School level, I discovered that your archives held a pamphlet I needed for a project but which I couldn’t get here in Salt Lake City. I don’t know which was more terrifying: knowing what an amateur I was, barely daring to ask a professional for help – or asking for help from (gasp) “those Reorganites.” A photocopy of the pamphlet, accompanied by a friendly note offering additional help if needed, came practically by return mail. I’ve never hesitated since then to ask Ron for help, and I’ve been able to help him a time or two in minor ways as my skills and experience with the LDS church history library have grown.

I know that times must be financially tough for you as for everyone else. I understand that you need to save expenses somewhere. But I wonder whether you really know and appreciate what an asset Ron is to your church and to the heritage we share, for the bridges he builds as well as for the professional services he offers. Once gone elsewhere, Ron’s wisdom and knowledge cannot be easily replaced even when times improve economically.

With sympathy for the realities of your budget, I ask you to reconsider the decision to eliminate Ron’s position as archivist. By retaining his skills and experience, you will be rendering a service of incalculable value to all of us who acknowledge Joseph Smith as the prophet of the Restoration.

If there is anything a cash-strapped outsider can do to help make this possible, do not hesitate to call on me.

Very truly yours,

Ardis E. Parshall
[address]
[email]
[website]



12 Comments »

  1. To eliminate a position for a man with that much experience certainly makes no sense for the very reasons you describe. But to make someone that close to retirement (as if someone with that much dedication ever wants to retire) find a new job borders on unethical.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — July 5, 2009 @ 6:34 pm

  2. Well, I didn’t want to go quite that far — it’s a terrible responsibility in any circumstances to eliminate jobs, and if it isn’t Ron, it will likely have to be somebody else whose personal life will be just as disrupted. I did hope that Pres. V. might not understand how valuable Ron is and that, learning that, he would be moved to find some other solution, somehow.

    At the very least, I hope Ron is pleased to know how highly he is valued among his colleagues.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 5, 2009 @ 6:42 pm

  3. Maybe I took it too far. But I was recently let go in a very similar manner. Budget cuts meant I and 200 of my coworkers across the county were let go. Out of my friends I have noticed those who are closer to retirement are still looking for work. I am fortunately early in my career and found new work after only a few weeks.

    But you are right, if it was me it would have been someone else.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — July 5, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

  4. If I am forced to find a real job again (so far my usual clients have remained generous and steady, thank heavens), I would face the too-close-to-retirement wall as well as the current economy. That is so frightening, and there is so little I can do to prepare for or remedy the problem, that I can’t let myself remember it very often. It doesn’t hurt to sympathize on that point — thanks.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 5, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

  5. I also sent a letter to President Veazey and I agree with you, Ardis, that the President is unaware of the treasure he has in Ron. In an e-mail to me, Ron indicated that Mark Scherer would be taking on Ron’s job as archivist besides being the CofC Church Historian. I really like Mark, having served with him on the MHA council, but I know that he hasn’t the knowledge of Church history or of the holdings of their archives like Ron does.

    My first association with Ron was similar to yours. I was at USU special collections back in the 1980s, talking to the archivist A.J. Simmonds. I wanted information that he couldn’t answer, so he gave me Ron Romig’s phone number at then RLDS archives. I had only just before that gotten over being scared of A.J., and the thought of calling the RLDS archives was frightening. Ron answered the phone himself and sent me immediately what I needed.

    One time I was on a research trip to Nauvoo. Having a few hours to spend in Independence, I wrote to Ron telling him the records I wanted to research. When I got there, he had them sitting out ready for me. He told me which ones would benefit me the most for the time I had, and informed me that a couple of the records and been copied and were in the LDS Archives. I was totally impressed that he would take that kind of time to help me, a novice in Church history at the time. We have been friends ever since.

    I hope that President Veazey will rethink letting Ron go. Ron dodged the bullet a few years ago because of the support of Church historians when he was in a similar situation. I hope he can again.

    Comment by Maurine — July 5, 2009 @ 11:16 pm

  6. […] The news is spreading that on June 15, Ron Romig was informed that budget cuts would would necessitate the elimination of his job as archivist at the Community of Christ archives.  A number of outlets have the complete story.  Apparently as of the story’s writing Community of Christ President Steve Veazey had received 18 letters on Ron’s behalf asking them to reconsider.  Ardis has posted her letter here. […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » In Support of Ron Romig–Please Read — July 6, 2009 @ 2:09 am

  7. What a terrible loss, Ardis!!

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’ll make sure this post gets a link in M*’s “Worth Reading” section and perhaps if I can dig out of my back-to-work mess, I will write Pres. V. an email, too.

    Comment by Brian Duffin — July 6, 2009 @ 8:24 am

  8. Everybody in this field seems to have a Ron Romig story similar to Maurine’s — he is a treasure to us all.

    Thanks, Brian. I hope all letters sparked by awareness of this remain polite, and that they request, rather than demand, reconsideration. It can’t be easy for Pres. Veazey and his counselors to make the choices facing them.

    You know, good librarians and archivists are more essential to repositories than catalogs, I think. Without someone who knows the way, and knows it better than the bare bones of a catalog, a library is just a pile of paper, with every visitor heading into uncharted territory. A catalog or finding aid can only go so far — it takes a human mind to recognize which sources are more reliable, more colorful, or tend to focus on this useful kind of detail rather than on that tedious other kind, or which sources have hidden treasures beyond the obvious ones that can be mentioned in a finding aid. When that hard-won knowledge is combined with the generosity of someone like Ron, there are no limits to what can be done. Without him, the archives go back to being piles of mute, disintegrating paper.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 6, 2009 @ 8:42 am

  9. Thanks much for this open letter, Ardis. I believe your point in comment #8, that without Ron the archives go mute, is sadly spot on.

    Comment by John Hamer — July 7, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

  10. On the question Bruce raises about the ethics of letting someone so near retirement go, I should point out that Ron is being asked to take an early retirement package, rather than simply being given his walking papers. However, working for a church, he’s never earned anywhere close to what he is worth, and so the retirement package will be insufficient for him to actually retire on without some supplementary salary.

    Comment by John Hamer — July 7, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

  11. I am saddened to hear of Ron Romig’s termination/forced redundancy. Ron is a truly gifted and dedicated archivist. He has tirelessly assisted me with locating books, reports and documents in the Community of Christ archives related to my research on Harvest Hills, a CofC intentional community founded in 1970. In fact many of Ron’s choices of research documents have been no less than “inspired” such as when he brought them by my table last summer on a trolley before I had even requested them! In addition, Ron has chaired two of my presentations at the Sunstone Conference in Salt Lake. I always found his comments to be insightful and constructive and they reflect his great love of church history. I will truly miss Ron at the CofC archives and I hope that the Community of Christ reconsiders keeping him in his present position.

    Comment by Bryan Monte — July 8, 2009 @ 7:42 am

  12. Write a letter, Bryan, write a letter! I love your line: “He brought them by my table last summer on a trolley before I had even requested them!” That’s Ron, all right, by all accounts.

    Thanks, John, and Brian. We share an appreciation.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 8, 2009 @ 7:59 am

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