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Heather Steinmann Searches for a Song by Her Father

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Heather Steinmann
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Ted, Jeanna, and Heather Steinmann sing "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" at their father's Celebration of Life (Yes, that's a Grain Belt sign).

Heather Steinmann is now a professor in Silver City, New Mexico. She grew up in Lakota, North Dakota, between Grand Forks and Devils Lake. Her father, Merle, though never a professional, loved and played music all his life. She was writing his obituary and including the fact that he'd written and recorded a song for the state's 1989 centennial — "I Love You, North Dakota." It was good enough that it had gotten some radio airplay. But she and the family did not have a copy of it.

She contacted Prairie Public's Director of Radio, Bill Thomas, hoping he'd know of some registry or archive or something of published songs. There is not a place like that, but Bill invited her to come on the air and talk about it, in the admittedly slim chance that someone would hear it and be able to help. Mostly, Bill thought the story would resonate with many people who've been in a similar situation, hunting for something that documents a loved one's life.

Just before the interview, Heather actually found a copy, from the widow of a recording studio operator in Devils Lake. If you listen to the end of this story, you can hear the complete song.

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Merle Steinmann on the Sax, back when.

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