In memory of Jeanine Stanek

It is with great sorrow that we announce the August 19, 2017 passing of Jeanine Stanek, the Sunnyvale Historical Society’s Chief Archivist. Her dedication to history, her positive attitude, and her endless energy was an inspiration to us all. She will be greatly missed.

The following is written by Laura Babcock, Museum Director, about her memories of Jeanine.

Laura Babcock on the left, with Jeanine Stanek

I do not recall the exact year I met Jeanine – perhaps 25 – 30 years ago: our lives crossed paths many times over those years, through our children’s school years, Leadership Sunnyvale, Tomorrow’s Leaders Today, and then we were both former members of the Heritage Preservation Commission, so we had a lot in common. Our deep friendship began about eleven years ago when she innocently offered to “help” with our archive database and historical library a year before this museum building was constructed.

I still remember that first day meeting in the old Murphy Park building to show her what we had to work with to exhibit at the museum when it was built.  In those days, we had a 380 sq. ft. museum room, a 1200 sq. ft. workroom, and another 1200 sq. ft. lean-to storage room.  In this room with no heat, no A/C, no windows,  our files had been kept in an assorted manner over the past 57 years. File boxes written in pencil with the graphite worn off in places, file cabinets holding various photos and history clippings, boxes and boxes of artifacts in the lean-to with a leaky roof, and water coming up through the floor when it rained were some of the issues facing Jeanine. She quietly listened as we explained it all and only uttered two words repeatedly. OH MY!

But bravely she dived right in! The next 18 months of her life were spent there, wearing many layers of clothing as she searched through boxes in those cold rooms, a flashlight in one hand and her notebook in the other. By the time we needed to transport artifacts to install exhibits here in the new museum building, she had a good grip on the contents of most of them. We’d call her at the end of the day while installing exhibits saying “Help, we have an empty shelf in the Libby’s display, what can you find in the boxes for us”? She recruited friends to help out and they became what we affectionately call our “Wednesday Nighters”.

Besides keeping our archive collections in order and on the database, she mentored numerous volunteers here, from teenagers who needed community service hours, to adults doing research, to people who just wanted to help.  Doing individual research for consultants, the City, authors, or anyone who wanted to know when their home was built, she helped them all!

As we got a bit older and couldn’t always remember every detail, I could come up with part of the answer and she did the other part. We always joked “between us we have a whole functioning brain with good memory”!  Certainly not by plan, but by “life happens”, we even shared the experience of cancer treatments. We could talk about chemo infusion centers and the pains of blood transfusions just as easily as the history of canneries or the Murphy Family.

As one of our volunteers mentioned this week, it is such a shame we could not bring in the historical Butcher Family house last year. If we did, we would have dedicated the new Jeanine Stanek Research Library in it last week.  We will keep on trying, Jeanine, and when we do get it, the Research Library Room will have your name on it!

We shall always miss you and most importantly we shall always appreciate you and what you accomplished here!  God Speed, Jeanine.

Your friend,

Laura Babcock

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