Sharing life stories

  • Susan Milstein, left, and Andi Reese Brady of Personal History Productions in Santa Rosa, California on Thursday, January 24, 2013. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

It was in Paris near La Madeleine, a church on the Right Bank, where Bob Anderson told a shard of his story, a fragment that would later be pieced together in a book.

"He told me it was here, back in 1945, when he saw an American soldier flirt with a beautiful French woman and pat her behind which he found offensive," said Kim Clement, Anderson's daughter. "I just wanted to capture all of his memories."

Roughly a decade after that father-daughter trip to France in 2000 Clement compiled her notes, a knot of questions and answers and then more questions, and then she approached local professionals to record her father's story.

"Everyone said I could do a book like this myself but I didn't have the energy or the expertise," Clement said.

There's a burgeoning effort among estate planners, educators and financial advisers to encourage older people to get their stories recorded, according to a recent Wall Street Journal story.

Jed Cooper, a Santa Rosa-based estate and financial planner, said he's aware of this trend in financial circles, and he definitely encourages every client of his who is 60-plus years in age to seriously think about getting their story recorded for future generations.

"People give a lot of thought and time to their estate planning, but they don't give much thought to planning how they want to leave the legacy of who they are as a person, as a human being, that's what they don't leave," Cooper said.

"I'd say almost 100 percent of the time it's a new concept or thought for them to leave this kind of legacy."

Clement, of Santa Rosa, hired Susan Milstein and Andi Reese Brady of Santa Rosa-based Personal History Productions to chronicle Anderson's life, and they said it was a colorful undertaking.

Anderson, 88, lived through the Great Depression, fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II and has thrived through the Computer Age. Anderson, who was born in 1924, grew up with the telephone a rarity, but today he's comfortable googling on his iPad.

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