Good night, Uncle Monte. "Everybody is Somebody"

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 07/03/2006 - 23:17.


My great uncle Montague Edelen died the other day, at age 99, from a stroke suffered in his home in California. But suffered would be far from his life-story, as he lived a very full and happy existence and I know was very pleased to leave this Earth and join his wife, aunt Ester, who passed many years ago. Monte was one of my favorite people on Earth; a fine man and a trusted and knowing lifelong employee and eventual Vice President of restaurants for Stouffer's, working for decades with Vernon Stouffer, who my uncle really loved and respected. I respected Monte so much, my older son is middle-named Montague. I was fortunate to get to know Monte a bit, when I stayed a while with him, a few years ago, and his stories of life over near-100 years, and Cleveland, and Stouffer's, are treasures in my mind, and would be a great history for Cleveland if they were recorded in some other way. In fact, it is only through Monte that I know "old times", and that is the meaning of this post, and that "Everybody is somebody", which was an expression of Monte's friend Vernon.

You will not find Monte on the Internet, other than for this posting here. Monte did use the Internet, logging into AOL every morning to read his email, which pleased him very much. But, in my 7 generation world, Monte is now and will forever be largely unknown. That is such a departure from my world as to be truly disturbing, that in this age there are generations of people who only exist at the physical level, when the world has become so virtual. My son Monte and the next seven generations will never know uncle Monte; nor his sister Janet, who was a psychiatric nurse in the military during the Korean War and then at the VA hospital here, with great stories of her own; nor grandma Mary Ann, who joined the Peace Corps at 65 and spent years serving in Nepal, before being loved by all she met here as a social servant in Cleveland. No - in these transition times, when some of us are virtual and others are across the divide, it is up to the virtual to preserve the physical for our children and all who follow, and that is an awesome responsibility.

I'll save my memories of Monte for other times and places, but must share that we need to think seriously about how technology today may better serve past and future generations, before it is too late. Now is a time when it is easy to capture and preserve digital stories, sounds, videos and visuals that allow others to experience what we know. But, once someone is gone, is is very difficult to remember them, much less help others know those who are lost.

Even for an amazing global leader like Vernon Stouffer, the Internet has little to share - a blurb here and there. The best imprint I may offer from his life is the stained glass panel above, which Monte may share, from the Old Stone Church where Vernon worshiped. For Monte, there are no other memorials so grand, save for what those who knew him and loved him may create now that he is gone. That said, I will encourage my parents to capture as much of their lives as possible in ways that may be virtualized and shared for future generations, and you may want to consider doing the same for those who you know are across the digital divide. This is not just an issue of access to technology but how it is used to capture and preserve our identities and lives, and only today's most digital generation is even close to doing that well. But "Everybody is somebody", and somebody will want to know about every somebody, over the seven generations down the line. Rest in peace, uncle Monte - I know - say hi to aunt Ester and grandma.


Some amazing and fitting stained glass at the Old Stone Church, on Public Square, in Cleveland, Ohio

MonteMemorial720.JPG90.65 KB
OldStoneAngel.JPG65.45 KB

What a difference a day makes

When my uncle Monte passed away, the other day, I searched on line for any record of his existence and found none - not even an obituary from any papers from where he lived and made life better for others. So I posted some thoughts to give him a home online, and where others who knew him may comment on his life. A day later, searching google, he is easily found - using the internet right is that immediate, easy and lasting, as this content should remain available on line forever, now, and hopefully some friends and family of Monte will find this and comfort. I will now work to move more of my familyacross the digital divide, and I encourge you to do the same.

Disrupt IT