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Memories Of The People's Diplomat

Members of the Waterville Committee had tears in their eyes when the mournful news about her death arrived. She had not attained the age of 81 years, that would have come in a few weeks, on October, 8 [actually October 7.]

She burst into Kotlas life as a messenger of good will, having punched a breach in a wall of alienation, misunderstandings, and ignorance about the real America and its people. She opened America to us. Hundreds, probably thousands, of townspeople had grown fond of Natalia — cheerful, active, inquisitive. While her strength allowed, Natalia Alexeevna strove for her adored Kotlas — for its people whom she immensely respected and appreciated.

At one time, Mayor of Waterville David Bernier delivered to Victor Zverev a message which contained these words: "We are as two lost sisters, we have long searched for each other and at last have found each other."* And so, Natalia Kempers was first in line to bring Waterville and Kotlas together. Her name will go down forever in the history of our sister-cities. Both committees, in Kotlas and in Waterville, called her grandmother, the custodian of the fire of our friendship.

They say that Natalia Alexeevna mentioned: "I want my ashes to be dispersed above the Neva [in St. Petersburg], the Kennebec, and the Dvina." She was a geunine people's diplomat, a messenger to the world — with a sympathetic Russian soul.

*This text comes from a proclamation written by Peter Garret, who cofounded the sister city pairing with Natalia Kempers. The original English version actually read, "We are as long lost cousins to each other. We have found you and are glad." In June 1991, David Bernier, who was then mayor of Waterville, presented a calligraphered version of the proclamation to to Victor Zverev, the then-mayor of Kotlas, when Bernier, Garret, and seven others visited our sister city.

This memorial notice originally appeared in Dvinskaya Pravda, Kotlas's daily newspaper, on October 6, 2004. Ellen Corey translated it into English.