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A bust of Keith W. Laughlin sculpted by Adams resident Ruth Ellen King.

Woman Seeks to Reunite Artwork with Subject's Family

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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The memorial for Laughlin that was found with the bust.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Gail King needs your help.
 
When the North Carolina resident and New England expatriate returned to the area this summer to help clean out the home of the recently deceased Jean Ann King, Gail found among her things a bust sculpted by Jean's daughter, Ruth Ellen King, who died in 2013.
 
With it was a newspaper clipping with a memorial for the sculpture's apparent subject, Keith W. Laughlin. 
 
And that is where the trail goes cold.
 
The clipping is not an obituary, which would list survivors, but a poem that only references Laughlin's "Mom, Step Dad, Brother, Sisters, Nieces, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and Friends." Laughlin's date of death is given as 2002; he was only 32 when he died.
 
It does not identify any of Laughlin's family members by name or even give a clue about his town of residence, or when the memorial was published. King is not sure whether the laminated news clipping is from The Berkshire Eagle or the now defunct North Adams Transcript.
 
She does know the bust meant something to her niece, Ruth Ellen, and she would like to see it end up in a good home, namely that of Laughlin's family.
 
"She did this [sculpture] when she was quite young," Gail King said. "She wasn't an artist, but I think she did it in school as a project. Ruth graduated from Hoosac Valley [High School in Cheshire]."
 
According to her February 2013 obituary on tributes.com, Ruth Ellen King, who died at age 35, was a member of Hoosac Valley's class of 1995 and worked at Big Y Supermarkets for 15 years.
 
"I went to Adams Town Hall and asked if there was a death certificate [for Laughlin]," Gail King said. "There wasn't. But he could have been from Cheshire or Adams or Pittsfield. … Then I stopped at a couple of places in Adams and asked if anyone knew the name.
 
"I went to the Adams Public Library and looked at the Hoosac Valley yearbooks for a stretch of five years around when he would have graduated, but he wasn't in there."
 
Gail King is hoping that by getting the word out about the bust, she will be able to connect with Laughlin's family members and give them something else to remember him by.
 
"I really don't want to throw it away," she said. "I figure someone must know this kid. If Ruth knew him, maybe one of her friends knew who he was."
 
Anyone with information about Keith W. Laughlin can send it to info@iBerkshires.com.

Tags: community news,   memorial,   sculpture,   

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Microcosm Holds Surprising Pollinators' Diversity

By Tor HanseniBerkshires columnist

Note the underwing camouflage gray and the upper-side wing of sky blue for this spring azure on a red maple.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — During May and June at various sites in the Berkshires, close examination of the floral bloom reveals some welcome surprises regarding pollinating insects.
 
Just pretend to drop down in scale until you are a tiny person, like in "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift, walking among the mushrooms and fleabanes in bold bloom towering above. What a dynamic environment is the microcosm surrounding you with its assorted insect fauna.
 
Before long you may encounter one of our smallest butterflies, a spring azure (Celastrina ladon) imbibing at red clover, appearing gigantic in reduced scale. Pause for awhile as you may become mesmerized by its stunning overall sky-blue upper wing scales, and become fascinated by its ability to suck up nectar with its uncoiled proboscis. Look for black ants not attacking with their huge powerful jaws, but with "antennae a twitter," tending the butterfly's segmented larva, that in appearance suggests a segmented gum drop. 
 
Well known in research literature, this association is an expected novelty since like other "blues" that exhibit the same phenomena, spring azure is also a lycaenid, in the family Lycaenidae, wherein a curious and complicated story plays out.
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