Derek Birch – Preserving the Memory of a Life: A Book About My Grandfather

Study Emphasis: Public Relations

Project Emphasis: Visual

I created a booklet featuring writing, design, and photography. The booklet is based on the different stages in the life of my grandfather, Keith Birch. This will serve as a way to preserve his memory. Throughout my time at BYU-Idaho, I have developed skills in Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and other programs. I put these skills to use to create a well-designed booklet featuring text and images. Additionally, I completed interviews with those close to my grandfather while also coordinating the collection of other written contributions from family members. The end product of this project should serve as a way for those close to my grandfather to learn about him and feel close to him. Also, my hope is that people who did not know him will have the chance to learn about what an incredible man he was.

Cover of Project Booklet

The early stages of this project required a great deal of material collection. I was close with my grandfather, and I knew a great deal about him, but I quickly learned that there was quite a bit I did not know. In order to effectively write about the various stages of my grandfather’s life, I needed to learn as much as I possibly could. I began by conducting interviews with those closest to my grandpa, Keith. As expected, my grandmother Susan was an invaluable resource.

Interview with My Grandmother, Susan

In addition to interviews, reading my grandfather’s personal journal was a helpful resource to acquire pertinent information to be used for my book.  Within the pages of his journal, I found a plethora of stories and phrases that were perfect for my project. Not only did this provide material to include, it allowed me to bring the character and essence of my grandfather into the project by sharing his own words.

As I was writing about various parts of my grandpa’s life, especially how he was as a grandfather, I decided that it would be important for his grandchildren to share their memories and thoughts. I reached out to each of his nine grandkids and I collected memories from everyone. All information collected was included within the booklet. I took a similar approach for writing about Keith as a father. I contacted all three of his sons, as well as his daughters-in-law, and I collected words about their father.

Another crucial part of completing this project was to collect and scan images to use within my booklet. I sorted through boxes of old photos that my grandmother had in her house. I took the photos that I wanted to use and painstakingly scanned each one. This process was rather time consuming, but it was beneficial not only for my book, but so that our family can now have digital copies of these photos. Additionally, I plan to upload these images to

Photo from Scanning Images

After collecting the necessary materials for the booklet, it was time to design a layout and format. I utilized Adobe Illustrator and InDesign in order to create design elements that were present throughout the entirety of the book. My grandfather Keith’s favorite color was orange, so I thought that it was appropriate to utilize this as the primary color. A crucial piece of the design process was organizing text and images together within the pages. Learning design-based programs as well as design principles at BYU-Idaho proved to be beneficial throughout this entire process.

Design layout in Adobe Indesign

Aside from material collection, coordinating and designing, writing made up the bulk of my project. I worked to utilize the writing skills that I have developed here at BYU-Idaho. I have often struggled with writing, and I do not think that it is my strong suit, but I thought that this was a good opportunity to challenge myself. I enjoyed writing about topic so close to my heart, but it was also challenging. I was very close with my grandfather, and the time since he passed away has been difficult. Reliving memories of him through writing was an emotionally taxing experience. However, I was able to reach a level of healing and enlightenment through writing about a painful topic. My ultimate goal for the writing I produced for this project is that it will serve as a vehicle for others to experience and appreciate the memories they have for my grandfather, Keith Birch.

Now that the booklet is complete, it is time to share it with more people. I have coordinated with my grandmother, and we are going to print off multiple copies that we will give to Keith’s children and grandchildren. Additionally, I will be sharing digital copies of the booklet with all family members. I will also be uploading the PDF version of the booklet to so that future generations will be able to use this as a resource.

In addition to sharing in the ways listed above, I was able to present my booklet and my project at the Communication Senior Showcase. I created a display that I hoped would draw people in by inspiring interest in life of my grandfather. I used display items from my grandpa’s life that were representative of what existed within the pages of my book. Additionally, I printed of 11×14 copies of the cover and some pages that I could use to display my booklet in a larger way. Presenting at the Senior Showcase allowed for me to preserve and share the memory of my grandpa with many kind people. I sincerely enjoyed sharing my senior project with those who were considerate enough to stop by and listen.

My Display at the Senior Showcase

Above, I have described what my project was all about. I provided some explanation for what I invested into this project. Below, I have included an hour log that details how I spent the hours that I did to create this booklet. Speaking of the booklet, I have also included a PDF copy of the for those who would like to read it. Thank you for taking the time to learn about my experience with completing the BYU-Idaho Communication Senior Project. Thank you for stopping by to learn about an incredible man, my grandfather, Lawrence Keith Birch.

Hour Log: