Monday, January 6, 2014

Sad News

John sorting piles of can metal (and other artifacts) over in Area 2.

It is with great sadness that I post this. John Farrell, who volunteered for most of this past field season at Wiawaka, passed away on December 27, 2013.

When John first contacted me about volunteering, he was very concerned that his health would be an impediment. I assured him that he was welcome, and that we'd work with whatever limitations he had. I had no idea at the time what an important role John would play.

John watching over Area 1, ready to map.
When he was able, which was most days, John would arrive early in the morning and hang out while I obsessed about the weather and finished coffee as other volunteers would arrive. Once on-site, John set up in his chair, positioned so he could see everything going on. In between wrangling bag tags and bags, sorting artifacts, and prepping maps John would identify mysterious things that came out of the ground and tell tales of the other terrestrial and underwater sites he'd worked on. He provided volunteers with an idea of the breadth of possibilities within archaeology and spun tales of some of the crazy things (good, bad, and indifferent) that can happen on digs.

I'm not sure John ever believed me when I told him how spoiled I felt having someone on-site who just made maps (and who would help walk volunteers through the process). And I never really believed him when he shook his head and grumbled at me when he dumped out yet another bag of non-diagnostic flat can metal. I will not forget John's contribution to the excavations at Wiawaka, nor his quiet mentorship.

John and I collaborating on something in Area 2.

You can read John's Obituary online here:


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