By Dena Martin
The Times 

Jeff Broom Leaves Lasting Legacy

 

March 14, 2019

Times File Photo

Jeff Broom smiles during a 2014 interview with the author.

Unlike parents with their children, I hope it's acceptable for reporters to have favorites. There are a couple of folks that I love to interview, and Jeff Broom was one. Jeff passed away on March 4 at Dayton General Hospital. He will be missed, but not forgotten.

Because of his community activism and his breadth of knowledge, I had the opportunity to speak with Jeff fairly often in the course of reporting for The Times. I have greatly missed his input and wisdom as he fought health issues in recent years.

It would be almost too easy to extol Jeff's many involvements and accomplishments.

In one interview, he told me that he wasn't born in Waitsburg, but moved here from Spokane at five days old. After graduating with the Waitsburg High School Class of '64, he earned a degree in mechanical engineering and went to work for Bechtel Engineering where he oversaw projects across the U.S. and in the former Soviet Union.

Jeff retired at age 55 to return to Waitsburg, where he purchased the home of his parents, Larry Broom and Roberta (Stonecipher) Broom. The senior Brooms were tireless civil servants and Jeff proudly carried on that tradition.

He served on the Walla Walla Community College Foundation Board and the Walla Walla United Way Board where he said he was able to "sit around the table with all the movers and shakers" to expand his circle of contact.

He used his knowledge and networking in his support of Waitsburg. Jeff belonged to Commercial Club, the Waitsburg Lions, the Waitsburg Alumni Association, and served on city council. He served on the Downtown Development Committee and actively worked to procure funds for the Main Street Streetscape Project.

An avid historian, he served as president of the Waitsburg Historical Association where he oversaw the Waits Mill Park kiosk project and developed the Bruce House Museum website, among other projects.

Jeff received the Waitsburg Community Service Award in 2013 and was Waitsburg Celebration Days Parade Marshal in 2014. He was unanimously voted the first to receive the Karen Huwe Mohney Exemplary Service Award in 2015.

Those accomplishments, though impressive and deserved, are not what made Jeff stand out to me, and I would wager, many others that had the good fortune to cross his path.

Jeff was humble, kind, caring, and extremely intelligent. Most every "interview" would digress to cover a wide variety of topics. I loved hearing him tell about playing in his high school and college Rock 'n Roll bands, partaking in his vast historical knowledge and hearing the pride in his voice as he told me about his kids and parents.

I don't think I ever left a conversation with Jeff without something new to think about. I recall one time he told me that he had studied conflict resolution (or something of the sort) and said that he rather enjoyed watching people argue over an issue just to see how it would play out. Maybe that helped account for his always calm and pragmatic demeanor.

Jeff may be gone in body, but his presence remains visible throughout Waitsburg. Our beautified Main Street, which Jeff helped see to completion, is capped off by the Town Clock that he and his sister, Joy, donated in remembrance of their parents.

He and Tom Land designed the legs that support the old mill turbine in Wait's Mill Park and he played a significant role in the design of the kiosk and creating the informational panels that grace its sides.

Visitors to the Historical Society website will enjoy the result of Jeff's work in building the site and Waitsburg graduates will benefit from the WHS Alumni Scholarship Fund established in 2014 by Wes Leid, Katie (Mantz) Leid and Jeff Broom.

On a more personal level, I hope that those of us that knew Jeff will be impacted and inspired by the example of a kind and gentle man, who loved his community and gave freely of his talents and time.

 

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