Jay County recently lost a remarkable friend, Francis E. (Frank) Kenyon (4-30-1923 to 2-16-2012), a gentle man who chronicled our history through his pictures in The Graphic from 1949 to 1961, and in other publications until his retirement in 1988. Frank was the Norman Rockwell of black and white photography in Jay County. For 40 years, he captured, with a light-hearted touch, the essence of who we were as Jay Countians. The plaque affixed to a newspaper camera given by The Graphic Printing Company to Frank when he retired read:
Whose Pictures Brought Joy
and Wonder to Our Lives
From 1949 to 1988
Presented in Sincere Appreciation
By The Graphic Printing Company, Inc.
April 30, 1988
If there is a “Holy Grail” of memorabilia in Jay County, it is those issues of The Graphic which many people collected and eventually brought to the museum in various states of deterioration. Everyone hoped that we could somehow magically treat the yellowing paper to preserve forever the images which defined a generation. We have carefully checked our collection to be sure all pages are in place and selected the very best examples to store in special boxes in a cool, dry, and dark place. We have three copies of each, but the life of that ink and paper is still finite. We needed to find a way to save Frank’s art.
Last spring, with the help of a dedicated volunteer, Richard Hummer, we began the task of scanning and storing digital files of every page (over 15,000) in high-quality TIFF format. Richard is now up to 1957, and our digital storage space is filling up fast, since we need to maintain backup in two places. Our hope is to find an offsite storage medium where we can rest assured that Frank’s legacy will be available to future generations who might want to recapture that time. We have a donation to start a fund for this storage project which will honor Frank’s work, and if you would like to contribute to it, simply send a donation marked “Frank Kenyon Graphic Storage Project.”
Of course, another way to honor Frank is to purchase a copy of the book of Frank’s work, Through My Camera Lens, compiled by Jane Spencer and published by The Graphic Printing Co., Inc. The book is available at the museum at a cost of $10 plus shipping of $4.00.
Frank was an honest and humble man. I know he would be embarrassed by all this attention, but I also know he was proud of his work and proud of his home county. The least we can do is to insure that his significant body of work is preserved for future generations. ~ Tom Young