Kyle Westover

Remembering Kyle Westover

We have been showered with kindness in the days since Dad’s passing. Most precious to us have been the cards, notes, and social media posts remembering Dad and the lives he touched.

Dad was an epic producer no matter where he worked. We used to joke that he would die at his desk and that very much was a fulfilled prophecy. I have an updated project list that Dad and I worked on as recently as the day before he passed (with assigned deadlines, which I am duty-bound to honor).

It’s hard for me to speak to Dad’s work life, as he and I worked on many projects together over the course of employers we both had. Dad was also deeply embedded in the work in Christmas we do at MyMerryChristmas.com, and of course, also here at WestoverFamilyHistory.org. But he was my Dad first of all, as well as a mentor, a coach and a cheerleader.

Dad had many positive work associations and many have shared their thoughts and appreciation.

Below is a video from Rich and Todd, friends Dad worked with and for over a course of several years after relocating to Utah. I can recall Dad telling me many times about his work with them, telling me, “I’ve got to get you hooked up with Rich” or “Rich and Todd are talented guys with a tiger by the tail”.

I’ve never had a chance to really meet these gentlemen but I so appreciate them taking the time to share their thoughts about Dad and I am gratified by the really cool and personal way they chose to do this.

I had to laugh at the comments of Dad’s “verbose emails” – Dad used to counsel me about my issues with verbosity and the fact I was challenged with brevity. It’s nice to know, in an odd comforting way, that he suffered from the same with others.

So thank you, Rich and Todd, for these comments. They are meaningful to all of us who know and love Dad:

Westover Family Tree

Our Family Tree

I believe now will be a good time to introduce a significant new feature to our website, one that has been requested and worked on for some time. It is our family tree.

What many folks want is a visual. They want to be able to understand how they connect to all the individuals we talk about.

That’s actually a pretty tall order and one I have frankly tried to avoid for a long time. It’s so very complex.

Most places you go online – such as Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org – are really limited in showing information of the living. We get why that is. The issues of privacy are complex.

Complicating that is the fact that logging in and keeping a password for any site is just plain problematic for some folks (well, everyone).

What has been requested is a way to have a tree that shows the living and yet doesn’t require a login or password.

Well, we think we have found a way. You can access our family tree at this link.

Please understand that this is a work in progress and it will always be a work in progress. We’re also attempting to include all of our many branches. This is not just Westovers alone.

We are also very focused on grafting in the ancient branches of the family – or at least those we can find within the past 500 years.

That means we are in active pursuit of the Canadian Westover lines, the Michigan Westovers, the Missouri Westovers, etc. – and we want ALL of them on the tree.

We cannot do this alone.

We know there are a lot of skill levels to this and we’re wanting to connect and work with them all.

If you have resources, especially pertaining to connected branches of the family so far not represented on the tree, we’d love to converse and, if possible, get a GEDCOM file of your current data for those missing lines.

The tree presently has about 33,000 names and more than 13,000 family groups. And that’s nothing. There are literally MILLIONS of us.

The living are very important. The Edwin Westover Family Project is a good example. We just want to know how many living descendants Edwin has and who they are. We feel that if we can find them and list them we can better share his story (and thus OUR story).

But it doesn’t end with Edwin. In fact, we want as many living family members as we can find.

We do not need any private information for the living. We just want a photo and a name. That’s it.

Here is an example of a living individual – one of my daughters, Allie. This shows only basic information about her family and her connection to me and thus to all our ancestors.

In fact, our tree is set up to showcase both the ancestors and descendants of any individual. Explore the menus a little bit, you’ll see.

And that is our primary goal: to make it possible to see how we are all connected – whether you’re on a computer, a phone or a tablet.

As with any family tree, this project will take time and effort. It will get better with time and the effort it takes to fill it out.

While we really want GEDCOM files of all our many branches we desire more to get the stories, photos and journals of as many as possible. We will work with anyone to help get that information on the site. It may take a while to achieve it but we will achieve it.

My big fear in putting this feature out there is that we will get bombarded with comments like “It’s wrong! You have my information wrong! Stuff is missing! You mangled my grandma! Where’s Uncle LeRoy? This sucks!”

We KNOW some of this wrong. We know it is incomplete. Please just help us get it right.

To begin, please see this page about what the tree is or is not (if the info above doesn’t explain it enough for you).

Then see our use and contribution policy. It contains a form where you can submit information you may want added to the tree.

Then point your folks here and have them see how they connect. Invite them to contribute or suggest. The more involved we all get the better the tree becomes.

Finally, I want to once again caution you about the many resources found online related to family history.

Any resource online – Family Search, Ancestry, even Westover Family History – is only temporary. EVER. Don’t think it will be there forever and never think it is absolute. Someone’s always messing with it.

You need to be keeping your own separate records.

You need to gather and preserve information for your own children and grandchildren. You need to have a standalone organized library of information that you have put together featuring your own research blood, sweat and tears.

That’s a lot of work and so daunting. Some have issues using computers. Others just do not see the time required to do these things. Some just rely on others to get it done. Most just don’t know where or how to begin.

We get that. We have all been there.

Whatever your excuse, please get over it.

The only way is to just jump into the pool and to take the sting of the cold water. Every journey begins with a step. There are lots around to help you and that’s all we’re offering.

It can be done if that is your true desire.

Please also recognize there are a lot of ways to bring your own talents and knowledge to the table besides working the project of researching and recording names and dates.

You can help catalog pictures, for example. We need all kinds of help organizing and identifying people in pictures.

You can write histories – really, just memories of your experiences with family members and those things you can remember. It doesn’t have to be a thesis or school paper. Just talk.

You don’t even have to write them anymore. Even recording them into your phone and passing along that recording would do.

You can be a family history reviewer – where you read and submit corrections to written histories of the past.

You can simply video yourself telling stories to your grandchildren.

There are lots of ways of doing family history and they all can now come back to the tree. Everyone putting in stuff makes the tree stronger.

I’m excited for this feature and I’m terrified by it. I hope you will consider becoming a part of it.

Join the Westover Family Christmas Card Exchange

Christmas! Yes, I’m going there. I know it’s only August. But I tried to set up a family Christmas card exchange last year and failed spectacularly.

I think I got it up too late and didn’t put enough push behind it. This year I vow to do better.

So, here’s the deal: the Westover Family Christmas Card Exchange is opened to all registered users of the site. But to participate in the exchange you will need to sign up.

I’m not expecting huge numbers. But I am hoping enough of us sign up that we get a good little exchange going. My goal, of course, is to connect as many of us together as possible. I believe good family history comes from sharing and we cannot share if we cannot connect.

If there is one powerful lesson I’ve picked up in the course of this year it has been the importance of connecting with family wherever and whenever we can. One cannot go to every reunion or visit far-flung family very often. But we can all afford to send a merry greeting with a stamp — and maybe share a little bit about ourselves in the process.

Those who know me know I’m something of a Christmas freak. I have managed for the past 27 years a Christmas website known as mymerrychristmas.com. One of our beloved events at that site is an international Christmas card exchange. It is, far and away, the most popular event on the site. Everyday from Thanksgiving to Christmas I receive dozens of cards from my friends made there who just happen to come from all over the world.

The cards add a lot to our home. And it makes me one of the more mysterious people on our mailman’s route.

I don’t have any aspirations to make the card exchange we do here near as big as what happens at mymerrychristmas. But I know the value and the power of this simple tradition and I know it will add great cheer to your home to have greetings arrive from as many family members as we can get to participate.

So sign up. I will collect the list information between now and Thanksgiving, then I will distribute that list to participants on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Bear in mind that you need to be a registered family member to sign up. That means you need to login below to access the sign up page.

If you cannot recall your password to this site, go here.

If you cannot remember your username, click here.

If you are lost and just can’t figure it out, just contact me.

One way or the other, if you’re family and you want to be on this list, we’ll make it happen.

I hope you join us in this fun little event.