John Gasner shared the following remembrance on the occasion of Pam Gasner’s retirement as executive director of the Block Island Historical Society:
I worked as a Historical Society intern for three summers between 2011 and 2014 and when I heard about this event to celebrate the work and dedication of Pam, I knew I had to write something.
My time at the Block Island Historical Society has meant the world to me. I majored in history and worked in my college’s special collections during the school year. Then, I spent summers on Block Island and experienced a history workplace in one of the most beautiful locations in the country. I now work in a public history office in Washington, DC, and when I think about it, my professional coming-of-age happened on the island, under Pam’s wing.
With her, I learned what it meant to create meaningful events that could draw a crowd – even away from the bars. I learned how to balance daily finances. I learned how to take minutes at a board meeting. I even learned what a midden is. I saw her give her undivided attention to people who came in with a question about the island’s history. I saw her give tours that fascinated the group. I helped her look for her phone once, for a solid 15 minutes, before she remembered she put it in the freezer (I’ll let her explain that one). I stood with my arm around her as we took a deep breath after pulling off a crazy week packed with events.
Most importantly, I saw what it meant to be a woman in the history field. I entered a majority-male office after college, and while I admire my male colleagues immensely, I cling to my memories of Pam: unwavering in her knowledge, confident in front of a crowd, a fierce protector of history on an ever-changing island. She is someone who speaks about history from the heart, not just the mind. To me, she has been a lighthouse for young women in the field. I have a sticker at my desk in DC that says, “Women also know history,” and it reminds me of Pam.
Pam, I am grateful for your mentorship. I am grateful to have worked beside you. I will treasure my time at the Block Island Historical Society forever and ever. I wish
you all the joy in the world for whatever is next.
So much love,