WEST BRANCH — With the recent passing of West Branch resident Genevieve Benjamin Bemis (class of
1941 West Branch High School, on Jan. 7, 2010.. a lot of historical knowledge was lost as well.
Bemis was one of the founding members of the Ogemaw County Genealogical and Historical Society, and according
to LuAnn Zettle of the Historical Society, she provided a lot of history to the society.
“She was a gatherer of history,” Zettle said. “Artifacts. Archival items. Almost anything
to do with the history of Ogemaw County.”
Zettle said Bemis knew everyone in the county.
“She knew lineages, genealogy,” Zettle said.
Zettle said Bemis also had a great knowledge of the history of buildings in Ogemaw County, and was instrumental
in many of the historical home tours that have been done by the Historical Society.
Zettle said Bemis was born in Rose City, but has roots all over the county. She said Bemis had also done a
lot of work with historical cemeteries throughout the area,
“She was the first to start gathering information for all the cemeteries in Ogemaw County, and compile
the information,” Zettle said. “She knew were cemeteries were that are no longer there.”
Zettle said up until about six months ago, Bemis was still working with the Historical Society and still doing
research. And, she said, Bemis always loved to have fun.
“She was a prankster,” Zettle said. “She had a sense of humor, and she loved to laugh.”
Zettle said the loss of Bemis would be a big loss for the Historical Society.
“It’s always a large loss when you lose someone with that much history and information,”
Zettle said. “You lose that original, first-hand information. That can’t ever be replaced. It’s unfortunate.”
Zettle said the archives at the Historical Society have been dedicated to Bemis, because of her ability to
gather up so much first-hand information.
In addition to her work at the Historical Society, Bemis was also very active in volunteering with Hospice
of Helping Hands. According to Volunteer Guild President Glen Painter, Bemis was the original chairman of the guild.
“Eleven years ago she stepped down and I took over,” Painter said. He said Bemis worked with him
to help him during the transition to learn his new role.
“She was very dedicated, and highly respected by her peers,” Painter said.
Pat Wiegerink worked with Bemis on Hospice’s annual quilt show, and was a close friend as well.
“She was a very interesting person,” Wiegerink said. “She was a hard, hard worker. She was
so active in Hospice.”
Wiegerink credited Bemis with initiating the quilt show many years ago.
“She was involved all through the years,” Wiegerink said. “She worked in the office two days
a week. She was a wonderful person. She put in hours and hours with the Hospice program.
Wiegerink said Bemis would be missed greatly.
“We all remember her with good thoughts,” she said. “She will be missed.”