This letter was sent by Carol, Lew's wife, to his closest geneaology colleagues, with personal memories particularly related to Lew's passion for Geneaology.  It is published here with Carol's permission.


Bart

It is with great sadness that I am writing to tell you that Lew passed away yesterday after a brief stay at the Avow Hospice House in Naples, Florida.  It was a peaceful letting go for someone who still had much to do.  How fortunate he was at his age and stage to have a full plate in front of him.

I hear the voice of your dear Bonnie remarking, with equal measure puzzlement and awe, how fascinated you and many of your like minded friends are with dead Germans.  I know that Lew is now deep in the midst of those Germanic people.  He probably gave St. Peter a difficult time, querying him on why he has not streamlined the induction process.  And I am sure he was very insistent on discovering the exact location of his relations from Switzerland.  St Peter is now totally exasperated by the grilling and has provided Lew with angelic escort, Lew's powers of direction were limited, just to get Lew passed "GO" and on to Boardwalk and Park Place.  Lew had been a good player of the worldly monopoly game.

I imagine a large stadium, think Olympic proportions, with groupings of various "tribes".  He has found the Swiss and is busy seeking out those from the Simmental and asking about this and that Christian Rohrbach that he has not quite been able to place in chronological order.  Of course all of these Christians have a wonderfully precise numbering system clearly visible on their tunics which is instantly comprehensible to Lew who is busy writing everything down. Heaven, it could not be better.

And now we have an empty plate which we must try to fill.  An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.  Picton Press was Lew.  He had so hoped that Liz and I would have the ability to step into this shadow.  But the fact of the matter is that we do not.  Liz and I much prefer that his beautiful creation remain that.  His creation.

St. Louis County Library has received much of his library, and they and many more libraries throughout the country will benefit as we distribute the remainder of his collection.  We will see to it that the books he was working on at the time of his death are published.  And Liz and I will continue to steward the Rohrbach Foundation as it helps fund the many educational endeavors it was formed to support and nurture.  I know I can count on you and many others to help us along the way as we try to preserve for future generations the work that he did.  His genealogical work was central to his life and, with the exception of his daughter Elisabeth, his most valued achievement. 

Image
Lew and Liz
In April Liz and I will take his ashes home to Worb where he was so intensely happy.  Maine was his new world heritage and a place where he began his work of assembling and publishing vital records in association with the genealogical community.  But Switzerland was his identity and core.  The fifteenth and sixteenth century were his centuries, where he wanted to spend his research efforts and the Canton of Bern was so generous in offering up to him some of their treasures. 

[Picture Caption: Photo taken September 5, 2015 walking his daughter Liz down the aisle in La Jolla, CA]

While Worb is not his HEIMAT, he had adopted it and adapted to it. Our neighbors on Paradiesweg—one need not understand German to visualize this earthly Paradise—have embraced us with a warmth that is not typical of the naturally reserved Swiss.  But of course we always appreciated that the name Rohrbach made all the difference in the world.  What a lucky guy he was to have had the opportunity to live his dream.  The only thing better is hopefully what he is busy doing right now-solving those last puzzles amidst some fluffy white clouds.

Fondly,
Carol