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Chautauqua Region Community Foundation
A permanent fund to memorialize the late James C. O’Brien of Westfield will help historical societies pay for educational exhibits and programs about local history. The fund is being established with donations in O’Brien’s honor and is administered by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.
O’Brien was president of the Chautauqua County Historical Society for 12 years and volunteer director of the society’s McClurg Museum. He died June 6.
In endowing the fund after talking with O’Brien about his wishes, Cristie L. Herbst, a trustee of the county Historical Society, noted that O’Brien was passionate about the society’s mission to educate, especially the young.
“We want to transmit the values and experiences of previous generations of Chautauquans to our children,” O’Brien wrote.
Herbst noted that as a highly skilled designer, O’Brien was an expert at creating exhibits to interpret county Historical Society archives and objects of local historical significance.
“James wrote that Chautauqua County’s role in American history can’t be understated but it can be better explained,” Herbst said. “He designed the exhibits to help provide a deeper sense of place and a bridge through time, as he put it.”
The James C. O’Brien and Cristie L. Herbst Fund for Local History will help local historical societies fulfill the educational mission that O’Brien so valued. Herbst, who shares O’Brien’s passion for local history, also noted that expertly designed exhibits help to promote awareness of collections and archives in local historical societies.
“James felt that awareness was a key to local historical societies gaining public support for the preservation and use of the collections,” she said.
The Fund for Local History will give grants yearly to historical societies to help pay for educational exhibits, programs and projects. Contributions to the O’Brien-Herbst fund may be made online at crcfonline.org, or by mail to: Community Foundation, 418 Spring St., Jamestown, NY. Contributions are tax deductible.