When A Legend Retires
Nearly a year after C.H. Booth Library Assistant Director Beryl Harrison retired, friends, family, and former coworkers surrounded her on June 11 to celebrate the “legend.”
Library Director Douglas Lord referenced her as “the legend, Beryl Harrison” when sharing opening remarks at the event, held on the back patio of the 25 Main Street library. The patio was created after the idea sprouted in 2016 of a memorial to Jack Harrison, Beryl’s late husband.
Beryl Harrison was hired as the library’s first reference librarian, in 1990. She started the day after Martin Luther King, Jr, Day, as previously reported in The Newtown Bee.
And since then, she has helped many.
“Very quickly she became a part of the profession that changed things forever,” Lord observed, noting the library’s shifting focus to meet community needs and Harrison’s longtime oversight of helping not just community members, but responding to the library building’s needs as well.
In every instance, Harrison knew what to do. And “through it all... she is the kindest person that I ever met,” Lord said.
“I wish you so many years of happiness [and] so much good karma for what you have done for this community,” said Lord.
Like many at the event, Harrison was relishing a serving of Ferris Acres Creamery ice cream as speakers fêted her.
First Selectman Dan Rosenthal delivered a proclamation from the town in honor of Harrison’s 30 years of dedication, and recognized her personality and sophistication in his remarks. Rosenthal said he has known Harrison most, if not all, his life, and he noted that the group of gathered individuals were evidence of how loved she is.
Some of Harrison’s family members — her son Derek and his wife, Clare, and Harrison’s son Trent — were present for the event, and Trent Harrison, a teacher at Newtown High School, noted “you have influenced the kids in Newtown,” when speaking to the group.
Not only has she known “everything” and been “helpful” to many students and other library patrons, but Trent Harrison also noted how well known Beryl Harrison’s peach jam is.
“I wish you all the happiness in your gardens,” Trent Harrison said to his mom.
Noting the state capitol is closed, State Representative Mitch Bolinsky promised to bring a citation honoring Beryl Harrison’s “amazing run” at the library in person, once it is available. The library, he shared, has a “special life” and that comes from the people who work there, “like Beryl.”
“This is a special library and God bless you for what you did,” Bolinsky said.
The Newtown Bee’s Editor Nancy K. Crevier thanked Beryl Harrison for always being helpful and wished her “a great rest of your life.”
And finally, with a little nudging from the crowd, the beloved librarian addressed those around her.
Her tenure at the library, she reflected, represents the “happiest 30 years” of her life.
“This is home,” Beryl Harrison said.
And with that, more ice cream was served.