by Nancy Maliwesky
Clarissa Stallknecht was already a fixture on the Central New York Genealogical Society board when I signed on in 2012. As President and Hospitality Committee Chair, she not only voted for my crazy idea to start a biennial New York State based family history conference in Syracuse, but she volunteered to be on the planning committee. She put together the Conference’s first budget, attended weekly meetings, kept me organized and focused, helped me navigate the event planning with the venue staff and handled all the registration materials and the fine details that often slip through the cracks. She then took on a larger role with the 2015 and 2016 Conferences, coordinating our vendors and exhibitors.
She did this while working full-time, volunteering for the Brewerton Fire Department, acting as treasurer for the New York State Council of Genealogical Organizations, acting as Historian for the Fort Brewerton Historical Society, pursuing her own genealogical research, being a hands-on mom and grandmother and caring for an elderly neighbor.
Clarissa lived her life. She put her money where her mouth was, and supported the many organizations and people that she cared about. She never let anything stop her from doing what she felt needed to be done. She had health issues, but she didn’t talk about them. She just kept on going.
She didn’t seek out accolades; in fact, I think she preferred working out of the spotlight. She gave her friends her time, her advice, her thoughtful concern and her great sense of humor. She would tell me when she thought I was biting off more than I could chew, and she was usually right. I always knew she had my back.
If I have learned anything from knowing Clarissa, it is to live your life. Live your life. Do what you can, do what you think you can’t. Surprise yourself and never settle. Move forward with no regrets. Live your life.
I will miss you, my friend, and I look forward to catching up one day. I know you will have some great stories to tell me. Until then, come down to Dover, it’s warmer here and the birdfeeders are full. I’ll be keeping an eye out for you.
So fly, on your impossible wings
Be true to who you are in everything
Don’t settle for what doesn’t seem right
And raise your fists to this beautiful fight
I see you, big as a bird’s heart
I see you, brave as the day’s start
I see you, true as the North Star
I see you, beautiful as you are
I see you, I see you, I see you.
©2016 Nancy Maliwesky
Nancy Maliwesky, past Central New York Genealogical Society Board Member and Chair of the New York State Family History Conference worked as a professional genealogist with the American Pomeroy Historic Genealogical Association for ten years. Recently retired, and now living with her husband in Dover, Delaware, she continues to pursue her passion for genealogical research and writing. She is also a singer/songwriter (the self proclaimed "Singing Genealogist") and an artist.