Institutional memory

Jan Gerber's ties to the community are priceless to the museum

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When Jan Gerber was offered the position of assistant director at the Museum of Northwest Colorado five years ago, she couldn't think of anything she would rather do.

"This is the best thing that ever happened to me," she said. 'I feel like it's the perfect fit for me."

And who better for the job than someone who was raised in Craig and has a special love for the community?

Dan Davidson, the director of the museum, said, "We're so fortunate to have people that come with a lifetime of experience and a good background (of the town). You just can't educate people in that stuff."

Aside from college and a year working in Texas, Gerber has lived in Craig her whole life.

Her son and daughter and a huge extended family, live in Craig. "They are my life," Gerber explained.

Almost everyday she meets her daughter and sister and the children for lunch and a walk at the mall, and on Fridays the tradition goes even deeper.

More than 15 years ago her mom began to gather her daughters together for lunch every Friday, and today the "lunch bunch" of up to 12 people still meets.

When Gerber is not doing the work of three at the museum, or cuddling with her grandson, she and her husband, Eldon, are taking care of their cattle ranch just west of Craig.

The original homestead has passed through six generations of Gerbers, and Jan and Eldon are slowly phasing it out to the next generation.

Recently the museum went through budget cuts and the part-time staff was laid off.

Gerber and Davidson are working extra hard to keep the museum running as well as finding creative ways to bring in income.

"Dan and I are trying to keep a positive focus. We complement each other in that way," Gerber said. "We know there is change, and we know we have to change with it."

She feels the museum is a valuable informational resource for the community, giving the example of people being able to trace their genealogy through the museums archives.

Gerber said she plans to work at the museum for as long as she can.

"I love coming to work because everyday is different," she said.

Colbert Levy can be reached at 824-7031.

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