Myra Vanderpool Gormley, R.I.P.

Myra Vanderpool Gormley (1940 – 2020), a well-known and very active genealogist as well as a prolific writer, passed away from cancer on June 26, 2020.

Myra was a certified genealogist, and a frequent lecturer at genealogy conferences. She wrote many books, including: Cherokee Connections, (and a follow-on book: Cherokee Connections: An Introduction to Genealogical Sources Pertaining to Cherokee Ancestors), The Official Guide to (written by Myra and Tana Pederson Lord), Prima’s Official Companion to Family Tree Maker (updated when Family Tree Maker released new versions), and Kansas Gunsmoke: A History of the Garden City Police Department. As a syndicated columnist and feature writer for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Myra also wrote a weekly genealogy column, Shaking Your Family Tree. She also wrote hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines,

Quoting her bio at

“Myra began doing genealogy as an eleven year old, when she went to the local library and did research that disproved a family legend about Jesse James. But it wasn’t until she was in her thirties that she began consistently researching. After experiencing a measure of success doing her own genealogy, Myra proposed writing a column on genealogy to the local newspaper editor. It took several years for Myra to convince him that genealogy had a wide appeal, but from the moment her column, “Shaking the Family Tree,” launched in July of 1983, it experienced tremendous success. Soon the column was picked up by the Los Angeles Times syndicate and passed to other newspapers and readers around the nation. Myra continued writing the column for nineteen years.

“Some of Myra’s other accomplishments as a genealogist include spending nine years writing a column and answering genealogy questions for Prodigy, an early Internet Service Provider, publishing numerous magazine articles and three books on family history, and helping to found the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors.”

One quote from Amy Johnson Crowe in a press release of some years ago describes Myra perhaps best of all: [Myra Vanderpool Gormley] “made our world a much better place for genealogists everywhere.”


Myra was a big help to me with my internet and our “on site” and library and court house genealogy research. Just found a file named Myra that I have not looked at for a long time. Lots of good info.


Myra Vanderpool Gormley, 1940 – 2020, Legends can lead you astray, and a Lot of Genealogy Research Tips Lots of good info.


I am so sad to hear about Myra’s death. Myra got me started in genealogy. I read her column in the Tacoma News Tribune when it first started and took her genealogy classes.She was always very supportive and had a good sense of humor. She will be missed.


Gretchen Collins Campbell June 29, 2020 at 9:28 pm

Myra led a wonderful memoir writing class in Tacoma WA for several years. We loved having her as our leader and we loved following her stories. She was inspiration to us all. God Bless you, Myra!!


Barbara Vines Little June 30, 2020 at 9:25 am

She was ever ready to help support genealogical events as well as drum up support for genealogical causes. She will be missed.


Myra was a great friend to the genealogy community. We at Genealogical Publishing Company are especially appreciative for the coverage she gave our books in her column. She was way ahead of her time with her own book, Family Diseases. Are You at Risk?, which we were proud to publish, along with several of her Cherokee titles. Anyone who knew her well will miss her giggles.


Lynnette Onorius Rae Diorio June 30, 2020 at 10:11 pm

Our heartfelt condolences to all her family, friends and colleagues for their loss and Heaven’s gain…we highly respect the genealogists….one must always remember and know from where they came…God bless us all!!!


I met Myra and her colleague Julie Case back at the Gentech in San Diego. In those days they were like “ham and eggs.” I had many more interactions with Julie before her death in 2008, but I am very saddened to know that Myra is now gone also. We all stand on the shoulders of these folks who led the way so long ago.


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