By Pamela West-Finkle
This month’s library notes are dedicated to our wonderful friend, Gloria Carlson, born June 21, 1943, passing peacefully on April 13, 2023. She would have celebrated her 80th birthday this June.
Gloria was a friend to many in the community and a tremendous supporter of organizations that serve animals. She was a practicing Buddhist who had a career as an elementary teacher in Brooklyn during the 1970s.
When she came to Andes, she fell in love with the community and dove into serving our beloved library. She was on the Board of Trustees, then the Director from approximately 2002 – late 2007, stepping down from the director position due to growing health issues to work on Fridays and be our acquisitions and Garden Tour point person. In 2020, she made the decision to leave her paid position and join the Board of Trustees again. In her years at the library, she was instrumental in getting a set of patron computers for the library from the Gates Foundation and had a hand in planning both the 2008 and 2019-2020 major renovations.
We are so grateful for her years of service and I plan to dedicate our upcoming edible landscape and community garden to her, commemorating her memory with a plaque. She leaves a gigantic hole in our community and in our library family.
I first met Gloria at my job interview for the director position in the summer of 2016. She eyed me with a suspicious raised eyebrow, wondering why someone with my music industry and teaching background would want to take a part time job at a small, rural library. She asked me point blank if I realized that much of the job would be pretty repetitive, boring stuff…”Check in, check out” she said. I loved that about her. She didn’t sugarcoat anything, but she said it in her own sweet, non-judgmental way. I said, “Yes, it’s exactly what I need right now.”
She only gave me a few days of training, but was always available to answer my questions and guide me with her wise and thoughtful counsel. As we became friends, she became a great source of wisdom and strength for me during some rough personal and family issues I have had to face since coming to work at the library. We shared teaching horror stories and favorite memories about children, parents, and administrators who either drove us crazy or touched our hearts.
I never saw her get ruffled in the least and she was always a wonderful listener and had such a practical, enlightened outlook, despite having to deal with me and my stubborn willfulness to do things my own way and guide the library in the way I best saw fit at the time…though looking back, I wished I had listened to her more. It would have saved me a great deal of trouble. She never insisted or butted heads with me—she just sighed and smiled, gracefully relinquishing the reins of the library.
When the pandemic hit, we moved into our newly renovated space, and we took our entire catalog online, her health issues became a primary concern and she knew her days of serving the public directly had come to an end. She took one of our open trustee positions and continued her acquisitions work with Linda Lederman from her home. In the last two years, I would greatly look forward to Gloria’s visit as she was bringing us bags filled with newly acquired items that our patrons requested or that were new to the entire Four County System. I will miss seeing her handwriting on our card pockets and will think of her every time I do.
I thought I would also share some things written by her closest friends in the community, first from Buffy Calvert:
She had a marvelous gift for friendship, keeping hers from Brooklyn through her years in Andes and making deep and abiding friends here. After Gloria retired from many years of teaching, she was visiting a Brooklyn friend who summered in Roxbury. One day she and her friend were on the porch of the Andes Hotel when the ACS band came round the corner practicing for the Memorial Day Parade. Gloria knew at once that this is where she wanted to live. She bought the Glen Cole, Jr. house on Route 28 just within the Village lines.
Until she knew what her pension would be she didn’t feel free to buy a car so she would haul her laundry to the Trailways bus, get off in Margaretville, wash her clothes at the Soap & Suds, shop at the A&P and take the bus back home. The bus drivers were delighted to take her door to door.
Naturally she gravitated to the library. And naturally we invited her to join the Board of Trustees. When the job of Director became vacant we chose her for her depth of knowledge of literature, her warmth with both children and adults and her knack for meeting the taste of readers of all sorts. Eventually, she cut back her hours to Fridays and ceded the post of Director to new talents. In the last years she gave up the Friday post. But in all the years she has joined Linda Lederman in choosing new books and volunteered in many other roles, especially heading up the annual Garden Tour.
Her own garden was a treasure. (It appeared once on the Garden Tour.) And her devotion to feeding birds was extraordinary. She even bought and cut up oranges for the Baltimore orioles!
She drew people together by her calm but radiant personality. We will miss her keenly but always cherish her time among us.
This from Rich Johnson:
As far as my experiences with Gloria, we go back decades and I found her to be one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. She never hesitated to devote her time, council, and support for me as well as other artists near and far. She also donated money to all sorts of causes, especially animals. She loved animals! We miss her dearly. We first met her through the library which she devoted all her time and energy to because she loved being an educator. The library and town have lost a great champion of youth and an asset to all. May she rest in peace.~