Gerry, you did a wonderful job on that website, and your Society members are very lucky and blessed having you manage it. Yes, James and I are tech-heads so-to-speak, and just like you describe, if you mess up the code elements in Word Press, it can be a hair puller. Word Press is predominantly PHP, whereas my specialty is HTML and Flash actionscripting. Almost every single one of our websites are actually custom-designed. We don't go through Word Press except for helping clients who want to set up their blogs or to help them initially learn how to set up their WordPress. And just like you, we let the clients know that this is one of the biggest minuses of using Word Press. There are definite restrictions and when you want to go beyond the template, you really have to know what one is doing or else you have to start all over again, just like you describe.
I am real sorry to hear about Dave! It won't be for long though before the website will vanish, sadly. Websites have to be paid (registrar and domain name) so with no one to maintain it, once the domain name expires after a year, someone else will take it. There are certain, ummm, foreign countries that actually browse for expired domain names and buy them out so that you have to re-buy the name at a very high price. It's a pretty brutal world out there. Tons of hackers and spammers and you have to constantly guard against those **#!$% too.
Hey, maybe it's a possibility to have a special Memorandum page telling of Dave Cushman's life and works as well. And maybe links to his papers and writings. It'd be so wonderful to preserve this legacy.
Oh, one more thing-- what you can do is have a backup, pseudo-site that you can run tests on. That way, if you mess up, it's no big deal...
By the way, Gerry if you know of any beekeeper who uses heather as feeding grounds for bees, please let me know, lol!!!! I am trying to use heather to feed the bees! but am not sure how successful this endeavor it going to bee! I would love your help with that...In the U.S. heather is pretty difficult to find. I've already made about 15 orders of Heather and Heath and am crossing my fingers that the bees like it! I need to find out the acidic soil balance I'll need, etc. etc. I also am concerned that if the soil is too well-fertilized that the Heath/Heather may not bloom at all. The heath and heather will be mingled with my roses and I'm trying to not fertilize near the heath's future planting grounds. The roses are currently being fed with coffee grinds, tea leaves, and bananas as well as organic sea tea. :)