The Storytellers

The Storytellers

Creighton grads bring family histories to life

Three Creighton graduates from different eras are using their innate curiosity to help clients convey compelling personal, family and corporate stories. Often their research reveals details or events untold — or unknown — before, such as the time they uncovered a land grant that Ulysses S. Grant had signed for a family’s great-grandparents’ Nebraska homestead.

Jim Fogarty, BA’67, Robert Mundy, JD’79, and John Dechant, BA’05, MA’08, along with David Harding, are the four partners operating Legacy Preservation LLC, based in Omaha. Another Creighton alumnus, Chuck Kelly, BA’68, is a senior writer for the group and lives in Phoenix. The private publishing firm creates one-of-a-kind books in print and digital formats.

A circuitous route brought them all together. Fogarty, who has a newspaper and public relations background, was first exposed to memoirs when his father, the late newspaperman Hugh Fogarty, BA’28, wrote his own life story in 1993. Mundy, a financial planner, was becoming keenly aware of some of his clients’ desires to do more than get their financial houses in order when he met Harding and they discussed their common interest in writing personal histories. Fogarty’s career had begun to include book publishing when the three eventually crossed paths and they launched the firm in 2006.

Dechant, whose undergraduate degree was in journalism, was finishing up his master’s degree when he heard about Legacy Preservation: “I always wanted to do something like this — I just didn’t know such a business existed.”

To date, Legacy has been commissioned to produce books for more than 50 clients in nearly 10 states. “The common thread among all of us,” says Fogarty, “is that we’re storytellers. We help people discover and tell their stories. In our conversations (with clients), we frequently find things no one ever knew.”

Legacy takes each project from conception through research, interviewing, writing, design and printing. The clients are the publishers and own the copyrights and digital archives. Generally, print runs are small — from 10 to 200 on average — as audiences for the books are not wide, but clients can print more whenever they desire.

The process is unique for each book, with an average production period of one to two years. The most labor-intensive project involved 50 interviews with 45 people; another required 34 interviews over four consecutive days.

“It’s a very interactive process,” Dechant says. “We wait on the client. We work at their pace.”

Whether clients have thousands of photos or just a shoebox full, the partners say the biggest surprise to all involved has been how therapeutic the process is for the clients.

“Sometimes looking at a grandmother’s ring or a painting on a wall will trigger a flood of memories and emotions,” Mundy says.

“The book is crossing the finish line, but they’ve already run the race,” Dechant says. “They gain a greater understanding of who they are.”