The Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern Humanitarian Award was presented last week at the Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference to David E. Rencher. The award, the highest recognition granted by the Federation, is presented only occasionally, and only to exceptional individuals whose lifetime contributions are monumental. The Stern Award recipient must, by acts, influence, and example, foster unity within the genealogical community, provide leadership to its members, and help make family history a vital force in the community at large.
David E. Rencher was a driving force behind the project that transformed obscure Social Security computer files into the Social Security Death Index. He had an active leadership role in every significant FGS undertaking of the past 15 years, from the Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System to Records Preservation and Access, from the Federation's Society Strategy Papers to Society Hall.
He has served multiple terms as a board member, treasurer, national conference chair, program chair, and National Archives liaison. He was a two-term president of the Federation.
Professionally, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has long recognized and used his talents. Since his days as a reference consultant in the British Isles collection at the Family History Library (FHL), he has filled ever more responsible positions.
He served as the Director of the Family History Library and the thousands of family history centers worldwide. He has helped to manage many of the FHL improvements and had a role in the creation and management of the electronic tool kit known to every researcher as FamilySearch.
Today he manages the operation for the LDS Church that determines how genealogical research will be done in the future and defines how the FHL network will preserve and deliver the records of our ancestors to researchers worldwide.
David is still passionate about family history, still actively researching his own family and still teaching others how to find those elusive Irish ancestors. The list of those he educates, involves, and unifies is endless.