I was saddened to learn today that Emily Wilbur, co-host of the PBS series Questions and Ancestors, lost her spouse this past weekend. You may have heard about it and not realized the connection to the genealogical community or to The Generations Network.
Second Lieutenant John Alley, United States Air Force, was last seen alive in Pensacola, Florida on Friday, 23-May-2008. The following morning at 5 AM his car was found, totaled. Fearing he may have left the scene disoriented, search dogs and volunteers searched throughout the weekend. Early Memorial Day morning a teenager walking the shoreline found his body washed ashore north of the crash site.
John and and his wife, the former Emily Wilbur, were newlyweds of less than a year (married 14-July-2007). Barely more than a month ago Emily announced on their blog that they were expecting their first child on 24-Oct-2008. Now John has joined his Ancestors and Emily is left with Questions. Why? How can she go on? What could hurt worse? When will the pain end?
Emily, please know that you are not alone. We love you. We pray for you. Among us are those who know something of your sorrow and the horror you are going through. Some of us understand what flight school can do to a guy. Some of us are members of your Church. Some of us are military brats. Some of us have lost spouses in our youth. Some of us are cargo pilots with fighter pilot souls. Some of us have children that have never known their fathers. Some of us still hurt so badly from loss of a loved one that were it not for support of loved ones we would certainly implode into a disheartened, devastated singularity. Some of us live with the black demon of depression. Some of us live with grief and guilt after that demon has taken a loved one. We pray for you, we love you. Please know that you will never, ever, ever be alone, Emily.
On the Help Find my Brother John facebook group the family has posted this statement:
We wish to express appreciation to everyone who has helped us and are helping at this difficult time. The outpouring of love and kindness has been overwhelming. We love John and will dearly miss his amazing spirit, but are grateful for the knowledge of where he’s at and that we’ll see him again.
Our hearts and sympathy go out especially to Emily and her unborn child. We want to preserve the memory of her husband and their child's father through memories and stories of him. If any of you have anything that you can remember of John please post them in the discussion board or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
If you feel you want to help Emily and her child out financially, you can donate to a trust fund established in her name. Visit www.helpfindjohn.info for the link.
All sorts of additional details about this story can be found at www.helpfindjohn.info. It may be too soon for Emily to start thinking about life without John. But I hope she decides to continue her work as a professional genealogist. And I hope the genealogical community sends so much work her direction that she can make a living doing it. Read on...
Emily Wilbur Alley
Emily Wilbur Alley is a graduate of Brigham Young University where she earned a degree in Family History and Genealogy. While earning her degree she was employed by the Center for Family History and Genealogy at BYU as a teaching assistant, worked as a research assistant to Dr. George Ryskamp, Center Director, and in 2006 received the center's Young Family Historian of the Year Award. Prior to graduation, Emily interned at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, Massachusetts and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, where she continued as a British reference consultant after graduation. She was recipient of two ORCA research scholarships, the first allowing her to conduct personal genealogical research in New England. For the second, she accompanied two professors to the British Isles to study emigration sources in English and Scottish archives. She co-authored a summary of their finds in the Utah Genealogical Association's Genealogical Journal, titled "British Immigrants Project," 31 (2003): 138-140.
Emily worked at Ancestry.com as a genealogist assisting customers with research questions. She is serving on the board of directors for the Utah Genealogical Association (2007-2009). She is an associate at Price and Associates, Inc. and has been doing private client genealogical research (see www.emilywilbur.com).
Questions and Ancestors is the follow-on series to the popular PBS series Ancestors. Each week co-hosts Emily Wilbur Alley and Darius Gray, along with other family history experts, answer questions submitted by listeners. Look for the series on your local PBS radio or television channel. Listen to episodes or check for scheduled BYU-TV showings online.