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.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.pokemon
    LATEST CRAZE—David Cortes (left) and Ty Kruse, along with Jerred Heselschwerdt (standing), consult their smartphones while engaging in the game of Pokémon Go. The virtual scavenger hunt comes to life when players are in the vicinity of gyms, such as Stair District Library, and PokéStops such as the fire station across the street. The boys had spent time Monday morning searching for Pokémon at Wakefield Park.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • 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.
  • 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.

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