When Don Heinzman, above left, a retired journalist, put out a request on Facebook for nominations of notable Bloomington residents for a project he was working on, he expected he would receive about 10. Instead, 70 nominations rolled in and he knew his project, Bloomington Notables, would be notable itself.
Jean Bellefeuille, above right, curator of the Bloomington Historical Society, saw the Facebook post where Heinzman was asking for nominations and she noticed that people were mostly mentioning local athletes. She thought she would add some variety to the mix and nominate her previous neighbor, Mary GrandePre’, who illustrated the U.S. editions of the
Harry Potter books.
After that, the two of them started working together. Heinzman conducted the research on nominees, performed interviews and wrote biographies. Bellefeuille wrote some biographies as well. She also edited them, found photos and put the biographies into a layout.
There are 100 residents honored in the three-volume Bloomington Notables project. The collection features biographies of residents who have achievements in categories such as, arts, politics, community leadership, professional and Olympic athletes and war casualties. Those featured range from famous baseball players, like Tony Oliva, to names that have local significance like former mayor Jim Lindau.
“What’s interesting about it is this project provides a personal connection to history,” Bellefeuille said. “The other day there was a high school student in [the Bloomington Historical Society] with his brother. I asked them what they were into. They said band and I showed them the biography we have of Dr. Earl Benson. Suddenly, history wasn’t boring anymore because it connected to their interests.”
You can find the Bloomington Notables books at the Bloomington Historical Society. Visit bloomingtonhistoricalsociety.org to see their days and hours of operation. Bellefeuille and Heinzman plan for the Bloomington Notables to be a living document. They will continue to accept nominations via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.