In the hallways of heaven there walks a new historian.
Alpena's loss is Heaven's gain.
Alpena's beloved historian, Bob Haltiner, died Feb. 14 following a lengthy illness.
When it came to our community's history, no one knew more, no one wrote more and no one had more unique stories to share about Alpena. He was a walking encyclopedia of the region, and he was gracious and generous in sharing his knowledge.
Haltiner was a true renaissance man. Part entrepreneur, part author, part historian and part archeologist, Haltiner not only left behind to Northeast Michigan a rich collection of historical books that he authored, he also left the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan a huge collection of prehistoric artifacts he and his father uncovered over the years. His family's collection is an important foundation and anchor not only to the local museum, but also the entire state and its prehistoric culture and roots.
Haltiner's last public appearance was in November of last year, when he was surprised to learn he was the first recipient of the Robert E. Haltiner Distinguished Service Award, an award that was established by the Alpena County Library staff and named in his honor to annually recognize someone who contributes to the library and its mission.
Haltiner, visibly moved by the recognition, shared with the gathering some of his favorite historical tidbits gathered over the years, including some about Alpena's infamous woman of mysterious repute - Nancy Noodles (Knudle). Over the years Noodles appeared in many of Haltiner's 10 historical books of the community.
A treasure chest of wisdom was removed from Alpena with Haltiner's death this week.
Thankfully, his legacy will forever be remembered through his books, gifts and discoveries.