Purcell Family of America
An association to help those trace the Purcell family line
The Purcell Name
A Gentleman with Genealogical Generosity!
Posted: 24 October 2011 at 2:14 p.m.
When I received word on September 4th that Todd Y. Purcell had passed away, I immediately felt a sense of emptiness. While I didn’t know Todd well, I respected him as the co-founder of the Purcell Family of America and the tremendous organizational abilities it took for him and his wife June, plus others including Forrest and Alice Purcell to launch our family association in the winter of 1972.
This issue of the Purcell Family of America Newsletter will be dedicated in large measure to Todd Y. Purcell with the publishing of his obituary, memorial and remembrances of friends and family. When I joined the PFofA in 1992, little did I know that I would someday become President of our Family Association, and that through the miracle of DNA testing, I would discover that Todd and his family, as well as past President Tony Marostica and his family, and mine were all related.
I met Todd and his lovely wife June at our PFofA Reunion in Salt Lake City, UT, in June, 2010. It was my honor to present to them an engraved plaque recognizing them with a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for outstanding service to our family association. In addition to meeting them, it was also my honor to meet his son Robert, now serving on our Board of Directors. Additionally, Robert’s son Daniel is our webmaster.
To get a truer insight of Todd through his thoughts as President, I decided to re-read the first six or seven years of PFofA Journals. Below is a summary of some of Todd’s Presidential Messages. They are inspirational not only to us as officers but to members as well. I spoke to Todd’s wife June in October, following Todd’s death, and she expressed her family’s gratitude for the lovely bouquet of flowers from the PFofA. I also asked for comments from family members and friends. His son Bob, daughter Dianne and grandson Daniel have responded. Should you have any stories regarding Todd Y. Purcell and would like to share them, please forward them to our Editor Connie Rinaldi. Thanks.
Todd was a man dedicated to his family, both to his immediate members as well as to the Purcell Family of America. He was a teacher at heart even though that was not his career. He loved fly-fishing and enjoyed teaching his children and grandchildren that subtle art. He also loved music and shared this love with his children and grandchildren by paying for music lessons.
In founding the Purcell Family of America in 1972, Todd had spent the prior two years criss-crossing the country contacting Purcells, and those with other spellings, while his wife June typed nearly 1500 letters asking for strangers to support the startup of the Association. It is to their credit that the Purcell Family of America was begun in 1972, and that the PFoA Journal was not only begun then by Forrest and Alice Purcell, but is still published today (as an online color newsletter.)
The first PFofA Journal was published in April 1972. In Todd’s Statement from the President he wrote that “It is the purpose of this organization and specifically of this bulletin to promote the extension of genealogical research into the ancestry of the Purcell family; and to record for the present and future posterity the history of the Purcell family.’ He indicated further that via one organization “as we learn more of our ancestry, we learn more of ourselves.”
In that same issue is a “Bibliography of Todd Yost Purcell”. He, like the Marosticas and my family, is a descendant of the “Thomas Line” from Thomas Purcell, who was assigned a cattlemark in Richmond County, NY on May 15, 1697, down through his son John, who was baptized at the Port Richmond Dutch Church in 1698. The name has been spelled at various times: Purcell, Pursell and Pursel, plus other variants.
In the July 1973 Journal (page 54), Todd comments on wealth. “Wealth - - must be distributed – that the common good of all—be promoted. It is the sharing of this wealth that makes our organization successful—the wealth of information concerning our ancestry.”
One way to share this information is via personal meetings. With this in mind, the triennial PFofA Reunions were launched in Lawrence, KS, in 1974. Subsequent reunions have been held in Virginia, Utah, Missouri, Ohio, and Montana, etc.
According to Todd in his July ’74 post (page 82): “One’s attitude determines one’s altitude. Your attitude toward our Association and its Journal is one to be admired.” He quotes Daniel Webster who says: “There is a moral and philosophical respect for our ancestors, which elevates the character and improves the heart.”
Citing a quote from Arthur R. Harper, Todd notes in his July ’75 column (page 82): “we have the opportunity to walk side-by-side, hand-in-hand, vicariously with our ancestors and becoming personally acquainted with them through our Journal.”
Todd’s middle name is ‘Yost’. He was named after Yost Purcell, who is pictured on the cover of April 1978 issue. Yost (born Pursel) was son of Willam Pursel and Rebecca *Stimmel, grandson of Samuel Pursel and Nancy O’Hara, great grandson of John Pursel and Sarah Osburn, and great, great grandson of Thomas Purcell and Mary Van Hook, the latter who resided in Loudoun county, VA. (Full details appear on page 48 of the April 1978 issue.)
*This Stimmel is the key to Todd’s article entitled The Letter on page 17 of the April, 2010, issue that described his efforts to discover his Stimmel heritage and his unforeseen success.
Determination was theme of Todd’s October 1979 President’s article on page 187. In fact, he observed: “The power of the great quality of determination is almost unlimited, and if we use it properly, it will give us tremendous strength. Too often we let little things upset us. We quit trying too quickly. We become listless and uninspired, and make excuses to ourselves,” (as to why many of us give up in our quest for genealogical records.) He then continued: “ I personally know of a member of our association who hunted for 20 years to find a family connection without success. It wasn’t until the association was organized and the research done by Forrest and Alice (Purcell) and others that success was obtained. The member would never have known the joy of finding the proper ancestry without…determination! We should have the determination Napoleon had at age 18 when he said: ‘I see only the objective. The opposition must give way.’”
“How like the formations of the stalactites and stalagmites is the building of our journal. It too takes on the coloration of the personalities of our ancestors.” This quote was from the President’s column in July 1980 (page 91). It mentions: Hugh Purcell, a general in the army of William the Conquerer who conquered England in 1066; and the three brothers who came to America from Ireland and settled one in Pennsylvania, one further down in Ohio and one in West Virginia.
In April 1981 (page 47) Todd writes: “From time-to-time we get inquiries as to the earliest record of the Purcell name.” Thereafter he writes about various theories from books and Library of Congress publications. He references ‘Lumber River Scots and their Descendants’, the Legend of Porcellus, and even the History of Charlemagne from 742 A.D.
“No one is rich unless he learns to enrich the lives of others,” Todd believed in his July 1981 piece (page 91). Three months later Todd announced in the October 1981 Journal (page 136). “After ten years, I believe it is time to relinquish the roll of President. I have given considerable thought to early retirement and June and I doing some missionary work for our Church. “
The above statement transcends Todd and June’s generosity and support for The Purcell Family of America. With Todd’s passing we say thank you to Todd our first President. We are fortunate that the leadership of our organization continued with Presidents: Valerie Kontes, 1982-1988; Tony Marostica, 1989-2006, me 2006-present, and to VP Doug Purcell who will take over when I relinquish the helm.
It is also most appropriate to say a big thank you to our PFofA Journal editors over the last 40 years: Forrest and Alice Purcell 1972-2000, Robert Purcell 2000-2008, and our current Editor Connie Rinaldi. Their work as editors have made the Association sustainable as the glue that unites us all as family members.
From a quote by Henry Drummond in Todd’s July 1981 President’s article: “You will find as you look back upon your life, the moments that stand out are the moments when you have done things for others.” We encourage members to share their genealogical histories, to volunteer their support for the Association, and to recruit others to sustain our organization in the years and decades going forward. In conclusion, thank you for your ‘generational genealogical generosity,’ Todd Yost Purcell.
Joe Frank ‘J.F.’ Purcell
President, Purccll Family of America
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