In Memory of Stan Liedmann
written by Valerie Marquardt
I clearly remember meeting Lynn and Stan Liedman at The Dragonfly Project Celebration and Remembrance event in 2005. During the reception, Stan and Lynn approached me and told me about their daughter, Michelle Franta, who had died in March 2004 at age 26 of a ruptured thoracic aneurysm. Stan handed me a business sized card that included information about a website regarding Michelle. I was very touched by what Stan said about Michelle so I looked up the website once I got home. At some later point in time, Stan wrote how he and his wife Lynn felt after receiving their dragonfly packet in the mail, “We lost our daughter Michelle and received a packet. We first couldn’t believe that somewhere there were loving people who cared about us and noticed our loss. We came to the annual celebration and found comfort and love and wanted to help spread the message of hope.”
I contacted Stan and Lynn at that time, and they quickly began to support the endeavors of The Dragonfly Project both by volunteering and through financial support. Since the dragonfly story meant so much to them, I asked Stan and Lynn in September 2009 if they would be willing to be coordinators for the newly established Adopt-a-State Program. (The Adopt-a-State volunteers find death notices of persons ages 40 to 50 and younger who have died. Then they distribute condolence cards containing a dragonfly key chain to grieving families.)
Stan and Lynn immediately agreed to fill this important and time-consuming position. Within a very short period of time, they started to send “starter kits” for the new non-metro volunteers which included a detailed training manual.
One of the Adopt-a-State volunteers, Jack Lechler of WI, wrote, “We met Stan and Lynn on our first visit to the Celebration event in 2013. Jermaine (Jack’s wife) and I sat with them at the reception. Stan and Lynn made such a great impression on us that we decided to become volunteers in Wisconsin. Over the years they were always available to us and more than willing to offer support and guidance. The loss of our children, of course, was a bond we shared, but we were blessed to have gotten to know such a kind and loving couple.” [Note: Jack and Jermaine continue to volunteer and have made thousands of dragonfly keychains for us.]
Over the 9 years that Stan and Lynn served as Adopt-a-State coordinators, the program quickly grew from 4 volunteers in 2 states (Iowa and Ohio) to at least 30 volunteers in 30 states. In February of 2018 when Stan and Lynn resigned as Adopt-a-State Coordinators, Stan graciously wrote, “We have very much enjoyed working with you all these years. The Dragonfly Project works because of you, our dedicated volunteers. Thank you for all your continued hard work.”
Sadly, on June 11, 2021, Stan died of complications from dementia. After hearing of Stan's death, Anne Brooker, founder of TDP wrote, “I remember the warmth I felt when I would see Stan at the Celebrations. He contributed so much to help others during their time of grief as a way to remember and honor his daughter Michelle and we are so grateful for his generosity. He will be missed."
We will be forever grateful to Stan for his excellent work, and we remember him fondly as the man who genuinely cared about persons who were grieving the loss of a loved one. We take comfort in the last sentence of the dragonfly story. “The fact that we cannot see our friends or communicate with them after the transformation, which we call death, is no proof that they cease to exist.”