Liz Stella Retiring From Library 2008.07. 02

Written by David Green.

By HEATHER WHITEHOUSE

When Liz Stella was offered the job of director at Stair Public Library, she wasn’t even looking for a job.

“I was 50 years old at that time. My husband was going to retire in a few years,” she said. “They came after me. I really had no intention of going to work.”

Fortunately for the residents of Morenci, she accepted the offer.

Twenty years and two new buildings later, Stella stepped down this week.

“I don’t know where the time’s gone, but we’ve had a lot fun.”liz_stella.jpg

For some, imagining the job of a librarian conjures up images of a humorless woman in reading glasses, seated behind a massive desk, eyes on a book and ears on the alert for noisy patrons deserving of a “SHHH!” However, anyone who believes this is an accurate description of a Stair librarian hasn’t been paying attention.

A motivating force

As director, Stella set the tone for an exciting, active library and library community. For almost 10 years she (with the help of her husband, Giovanni) led a troupe of volunteers in a massive fund-raising effort to garner the roughly $400,000 needed to build a new library.

The primary fund-raiser was the Wakefield Park concession stand, where the Stellas and Friends of Stair Public Library gave up their summer weekends for years, serving hungry ball players. The concession stand, along with other fund-raisers (e.g. magnet sales, penny drives, silent auctions), raised approximately $40,000 over seven years. The remaining funds came from donations and grants, many of which required a record of consistent volunteer support for the building project as a condition of receipt.

“We had a lot of diligent, loyal volunteers,” Stella said. “The whole community made this happen.”

The new Stair Public Library, more than three times its original size, was completed in 1997. A few years later, the old library was fully remodeled into an annex and made barrier-free by leveling the multi-floor, mezzanine design. Due largely to a generous donation by the Fay Foundation, the aptly named “Liz Stella Annex,” opened to the public in 2003.

A generous heart

Though Stella will no doubt be remembered by the city for her tireless efforts in making these buildings a reality, library patrons will remember her kindness and generosity on a day-to-day basis.  Always friendly, always welcoming and always accommodating, Stella truly made the library the heart of the community.

She will be missed for her spontaneous exclamations of, “Isn’t this fun?” as she helped patrons find just the right information. She will be missed for her ingenuity and willingness to tackle any craft, art or holiday project (though rumor has it, the Christmas Fantasy Village will continue). She will be missed for her way of making every patron feel important and every request seemingly a delight. She will be missed for her obliging gentility—to everyone aged 5 to 85.

The Big Send-Off

A special library open house is planned in honor of Stella’s retirement Saturday, July 12, at 6:30 p.m. Entertainment will begin at approximately 6:45 p.m. with cake and other refreshments served after the event. The public is welcome to join in the celebration and in honoring Stella and her 20-year contribution to the City of Morenci.

 

  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
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    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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