In Memoriam

We are grateful to all those who have shared their time, talents, and treasure to ensure the success of Michigan's museums, the Michigan museum community, and the Michigan Museums Association. We fondly remember many of them here. 

Please feel free to share your memories and comments on any of the memorials. 

MMA members can login to add a memorial posting, or anyone can send a posting to the MMA office.  

  • January 26, 2023 10:26 AM | Anonymous

    Keith Harrison, the Director and President of the Board for Michigan's G.A.R. Memorial Hall and Museum in Eaton Rapids, passed away on January 12, 2023. Harrison was involved in the 2017 MMA Annual Conference held in Lansing, leading a tour of his museum for attendees. Harrison is pictured at left in this photo taken at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, along with Lisa Plank and Jason Dake (center and right). 

    "It was wonderful to work with Keith on the 2017 conference. He was so passionate about preserving and sharing the story of his museum, and his enthusiasm encapsulated why our volunteer-led museums are such a treasure in Michigan. I am sad to not have the chance to work with him again, but I am grateful to have known him," said Lisa Craig Brisson, MMA's Executive Director. 

    Harrison had a prolific career with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, as well as being a 33-year veteran of Civil War reenactments, and a participant in several historical, patriotic, and civic organizations. His accomplishments are numerous and reflective of a life well-lived. You can read his full 
    obituary here.

  • September 02, 2021 11:57 AM | Anonymous

    On August 22, 2021 the Michigan museum community lost one of the founding members of the Michigan Museums Association, Dr. Harold D. Mahan. To read more about his life as an educator and museum professional, please read his obituary. The Michigan Museums Association would like to express its sincere condolences to his family and friends, as well as those he mentored throughout his life. 

    Below is a personal reflection on the impact his mentorship had on Phillip Kwiatkowski, retired director, Michigan Historical Museum.  

    "Doc was my mentor.   I met him when I was a student at Central Michigan University and began volunteering at the museum.   I was trying to find and alternative to being a high school history teacher and one day I wandered into the museum on campus.  

    Doc’s door was open, as it always was, so I asked if I could talk with him about working in museums.   He welcomed me in and that was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.   Soon, I was volunteering in the museum, inventorying the historical artifacts the museum held.   I was hooked.   Because of him, I worked for over 40 years in the museum field.   It was all because of him.  

    He basically got me my first job.   Bay City needed a couple of people to help with exhibits over spring break.  Doc was consulting with them and asked if I and Sue Bosworth, a great diorama artist, would like a job.  That led to me becoming the Director of the Bay County Historical Museum in 1973.  

    Doc was never out of my reach though.  He was always there for me.  I can’t remember how many times I called him for advice.   He always took my calls no matter what institution he was in charge.   He never forgot his students.   He was a great teacher.  

    He was also a person that wanted to advance the profession for students and young professionals.   He encouraged us to be involved in the Michigan Museums Association as well as regional and national organizations.   He was one of the founders of the MMA.  

    His obituary highlights his many accomplishments, but I’ll always remember Doc as a person with boundless energy, never sitting still, running around the museum, (he never walked) teaching students in museum practices, ornithology, animal behavior etc.  

    His enthusiasm effected the lives and continued to affect the lives of hundreds if not thousands of individuals.   He was, in my humble opinion, a great teacher and a true museum professional."
  • April 01, 2020 12:41 PM | Anonymous

    Oct. 21, 1923 - July 29, 2017

    On July 29, 2017 the Michigan museum community lost a shining star in Millie Hadwin. To read more about her remarkable life and the role she played in Michigan's museums, please read her 
    obituary. The Michigan Museums Association would like to express their condolences to her family and friends and appreciation for her service to the field. 

    Below is a personal reflection on the impact her mentorship had on Phillip Kwiatkowski, retired director, Michigan Historical Museum.  

    When word reached me that Millie had passed away I realized that one of my mentors is now gone.  She, as many people have said, was a great inspiration to the museum field and the Michigan Museums Association.   Because of the that I contacted the MMA office to ask that her accomplishments be highlighted in one of the future issues of the newsletter.  When Lisa asked me to write about Millie, I was honored but I quickly realized that there are many people that knew and worked with her longer than I that could write about her. After thinking about it I thought it would be fitting to remember how she affected me as a young professional.

    I met Millie when I was a graduate student at Central Michigan University. I think she was at the CMU museum attending a MMA meeting. Attending were the Directors of the museums from around the state. I was in awe and a bit afraid of the “big shots” attending but very pleasantly surprised how they welcomed a young student in their midst, when I was introduced.   Millie was gracious and told me several times that if I ever needed advice or just wanted to talk to contact her. Little did I realize then how often I’d be calling.  

    Sometime later, at a MMA meeting, I saw her again. To my surprise, she remembered meeting me.  I was impressed. She welcomed my questions, and introduced me to her husband, Bernie. What a great couple they were. 

    Millie and I spent many hours discussing museum issues. Even when I left the state, I would track her down at regional or national meetings for advice. She was a wealth of information from dealing with difficult board members, curatorial issues, fund raising and community programming. When I was going through the accreditation process at the Sloan Museum I leaned on her to discuss the process.  

    She always had time for this young director bugging her. I will never forget that. And I’m probably one of many young museum professionals that she impacted.  

    Over the years, I realized how much I appreciated her willingness to share her knowledge. Information I’m sure I used every day in one way or another. She was an inspiration to me and to others. 

    I remember her smile, her candor and her intensity when grappling museum issues. She was a very stable voice when MMA was struggling with issues.  

    Submitted by Phillip Kwiatkowski, retired director, Michigan Historical Museum


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