Inside the carriage house on the grounds of the Joslyn Castle, Jim Fogarty and company have a comfortable, and enviable, set up. Couches, bookshelves and pieces of art make up the eclectic decor in what has to be one of Omaha’s hippest writing studios. The place is perfect for hours of relaxed reminiscing about our city’s history and the great old families that made Omaha what it is today.
But what’s going on inside the carriage house isn’t exactly what you’d call “relaxed.” Fogarty and a group of other writers who make up Legacy Preservation are busy putting stories down on paper, writing commissioned books about families, individuals, and businesses.
The company’s motto is “We Write History. Yours.” So far, Fogarty, along with business partners David Harding, John Dechant, and Robert Mundy, have been doing just that. More than 50 books have been written so far by the men behind Legacy Preservation.
Harding, an Omaha native who spent a number of years in Alaska before moving back, remembers a book his father gave him about his great-great grandfather. He was struck by the power of the book and how it allowed to him know past generations that otherwise would have been lost to him.
Fogarty had worked on a book about his father, former Omaha World-Herald managing editor Hugh Fogarty. He knew firsthand the importance of those family stories. Fogarty, who also worked at the World-Herald, started Legacy Preservation in 2006 with Harding and Mundy. Through word of mouth and increased exposure to their books, more and more customers have signed on and commissioned new stories and projects. Dechant, a Creighton University grad who joined Legacy in 2008, says they have 14 book projects or “active cases” in the works right now.
Among the books written are: Patented for Success: Dr. Wayne Ryan and Streck, Inc.; Truth and Other Tall Tales about Richard Holland; Never Back Down: Bob Gottsch, The Business of Life; and a book about Omaha artist Allan Tubach.
Some of the books, like the two on Holland and Tubach, have been sold in stores, but most of the books are only available to the families who have commissioned them, usually a few dozen copies.
Harding says Legacy handles all aspects of the project, from the interviews and research to the writing and editing to the layout and design of the book. Dechant says they make sure to keep the person who requested the book be written informed, providing sample chapters and regular updates along the way. Final say on the book including its look and the content are up to the family. The interviews done are all transcribed and given back to families.
“In a way we are reinventing the wheel with each book, each story is unique, we aren’t McDonalds,” Dechant says.
The company has writers in other states, many of whom are retired newspaper columnists from publications like the Kansas City Star, Miami Herald and Arizona Republic. Writers who want to continue to tell stories. Fogarty says they’ve started to think about how the company could franchise. He said in 10 years he thinks the business will look far different than it does today as it continues to grow.
Tubach says working on the book was an “absolutely wonderful experience” and enjoyed the long chatting sessions it took to gather the material.
“Jim has a facility to ask questions to cause you to analyze and think and bring things to the fore,” Tubach says. “It was a great experience and pulled up some things I had forgotten about.”