More than three dozen members of the Friends of the C.H. Booth Library, library staff, and fellow book sale volunteers crowded into the Old Board Room of the C.H. Booth Library Monday morning, May 19, to wish well to Julie and Pete Stern. The Sterns, who have volunteered with the Friends for many years sorting books, serving on the board, and, in Mr Stern’s case, representing the Friends on the board of trustees of the C.H. Booth Library, are moving to Pennsylvania as of June 2. (See related story.)
“They’ve done a phenomenal amount of work here. They are amazing, both of them,” commented Friends’ President Jim Maher, prior to the celebration. In addressing the group a few minutes later, Mr Maher noted, “Change is the spice of life.” On the one hand, he said, all of their friends were pleased to see Julie and Pete taking the steps to join family nearby their new locale. “On the other hand,” he said, “they are leaving some big shoes to be filled, both his and hers.” Professing a profound gratitude for all they have given, the Sterns, he said, were a “big force in Newtown,” not only for the library, but in numerous community organizations and clubs.
Wendy Wipprecht, a fellow Friends member, said goodbye in rhyming fashion, an original poem speaking to the many ways in which the couple touched the lives of others.
Denise Kaiser has worked side-by-side with the Sterns, sorting books, preparing for the annual book sale, and working the intense five-day sales each year. She read from a note that she told the group she had put off writing. “If I don’t write it, they won’t leave,” was her subconscious reasoning, she mused. It was Pete, said Ms Kaiser, who “makes us work more smoothly,” and who “taught us that all books are interesting.” It was Julie, however, who guided the Friends through books and through tumult “and who taught us that some books are interesting. We’re all better for knowing you,” she told the Sterns, as she presented them with a special gift.
The album is a collection of photographs, letters from friends and co-workers, and newspaper clippings compiled by Linda Doyle and Toni Earnshaw, and covering the nearly half decade of the Sterns’ life in Newtown.
Looking at the group gathered Monday morning, Mr Stern graciously thanked them all. “This whole thing,” he said, “is a thing of love” that embraces books, people, and the community. “This library is exemplary of that community,” he said, “and a place where we’ve had a lot — a lot — of fun.”