Motion Picture Industry

An envelope containing a letter arrived from the Motion Picture Industry Insurance (MPI).  The letter expressed condolences on the death of Kathleen Black.  It went on to say that the primary beneficiary (Barbara A. Discoe) had also died and that the Lemhi County Humane Society (LCHS) was the contingent beneficiary.  In order to receive Kathleen Black’s $2,000.00 life insurance policy the LCHS must submit “certified” death certificates for each individual and complete the death form.

MPT Letter

Letter that started it all!

Who were these women?  Movie stars????  An email was immediately sent to the LCHS Board.  No one had heard of them.  A call was placed to the MPI office.  A very nice woman documented the inquiry call and transferred me to the “coordinator.”  I left a message.  And I waited.  And waited some more.             Hmmmm.  No help there. One of the honorary Board Members remembered the two but not through an association with the LCHS.  However, it was a start.  She remembered they had lived in Salmon on South Saint Charles because she bought an organ from them for her mom in the early 1980’s.

That information led to many internet searches and Facebook searches. There were many women named Kathleen Black.  Without a middle name (or even initial) it seemed like a lost cause.  BUT $2,000 was a lot of money to give up on.

Through an obituary listing, family members of a Barbara A. Discoe were contacted.  No one responded.  Finally one of her sons was reached by phone.  His mom had spent her entire life working on Fisherman’s Wharf.  Ooops.

Another internet search led to the Lemhi County Gen Web Project.  Barbara had died on 10/3/1999.  A visit to the Salmon Public Library for a microfiche obituary search resulted in a new clue.  Because the microfiche reader was being difficult the Head Librarian came to the rescue and learned of the quest.  She remembered both women and said they were supportive patrons of the library.  She remembered Barbara had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and they had moved to Missoula so she could receive treatment.  The Librarian printed off a form which would be needed to request a certified death certificate from the State of Montana. She shared she thought the two women had been members of the Back Country Horsemen (BCH).MT Form

A long time member of the BCH was called.  She did not remember the two women but suggested contacting another individual who had started the BCH.  His wife answered the phone and lo and behold she had been their meter reader.  She confirmed where they had lived while in Salmon and that they had moved to Missoula.

Given the free searches was not yielding use information it was time to move to the next step.  Genealogy membership searches.  Thank goodness for trial memberships.  It was learned Kathleen’s middle name was Newton and she had died in Missoula on January 28, 2008.  The information needed to complete the death certificate requests was found and the trial memberships were cancelled!


Certified State of MT Death Certificate


Certified Return Receipt – Proof MPI Receives Documents

Fortunately for the LCHS Montana is a state that issues certified death certificates to whoever requests them for a small fee.  If either of these women had died in Idaho only a surviving family member could obtain their death certificates.   Old Census records showed both women were only children.



A Complete Package = $2,000.00










A certified return receipt envelope was mailed to the MPI containing the two death certificates and a completed death form. It will be an exciting day when the $2,000.00 check is received.

It doesn’t seem fitting to close without sharing some information about Kathleen and Barbara.  Kathleen was born in New York, New York in 1919.  She was an Administrative Assistant for the MPI.  She lived 88 years.  Barbara was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1935.  She was an Accountant and lived 64 years.  According to old Census Records both women were only children.  What brought them to Salmon?  Visiting friends while on a vacation.  It is obvious they became friends of the LCHS.

Their thoughtfulness for animals is an indication of the type of people they must have been.  $2,000.00 goes a long ways to make the animals that currently call our Shelter home comfortable while they wait for their forever families.  Kathleen Black and Barbara Discoe – THANK YOU!!!!