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George Lawry’s love for history ran deep.

When he followed his son, Sam, to the Bitterroot Valley in 2007, it didn’t take him long to find a place on the Ravalli County museum’s board.

“He was an architect who loved the idea of being able to make a historic building into something that is functional in today’s world,” said the museum’s director Tamar Stanley. “He treasured the A.J. Gibson feel of this building.”

But when he looked inside to the collection he knew captured so much of the local history, Lawry found reason for concern.

That collection was not very well protected from either fire or theft.

Shortly before he died on March 3, 2012, Lawry decided to do something about that.

“One of the last things that he did was ask me for a piece of paper,” said his son, Sam Lawry.

In his then unsteady hand, Lawry wrote out a substantial bequest to cover the cost of installing a state-of-the-art security system at the museum.

“It was one of his last desires to see this gift be put to use to protect the past for future generations,” Sam Lawry said.

Following his bequest, the Ravalli County Commission stepped forward to provide the match needed for an important update to the building’s fire alarm system.

“It was such a great partnership between a person who cared deeply for the museum and its collection and my county colleagues,” Stanley said. “They both understood the importance of ensuring this building be preserved for future generations.”

“It touches my heartstrings to know that he cared so much about this place,” she said.

The new security system was installed by Mission Valley Security.

“It is truly a state-of-the-art system,” Stanley said. “It has motion detectors, cameras and breaking glass sensors. It also incorporates RTF tags that can be placed on specific objects to detection motion.”

“They’ve dazzled us with science,” she said.

Considering the age of the building and its acoustics, Stanley said the security crew had to be a bit ingenious when it came time to install sound sensors.

“For a time we were setting off the alarms every 10 minutes,” she said.

Having the new security and fire alarm systems in place is a milestone for the museum.

“In the past, we have had to take it on faith that things would stay where we put them,” Stanley said.

This new security will not only protect the important local treasures stored in the museum, but also open doors for new, high-caliber exhibits from outside the area that will be interesting to both young and old.

Lawry would have liked that.

“He liked the idea of preserving this important cultural history for younger generations,” Sam Lawry said. “He would always get my kids to encourage their friends to get involved. Whenever there was any kind of event at the museum, you would see him there with his granddaughters in tow.”

Reach reporter Perry Backus at 363-3300 or