Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tragic Loss

It is with great sadness that I write today of the loss of a great friend and wonderful person.

Loah Whitmore was a longtime resident in the apartment above the children’s wing of our library. She and her husband Hal had moved into the apartment many years before the library purchased the building. I only came to know Loah and Hal when the library acquired the building next door in 1995. Later (in 2000) the building that housed their apartment was also purchased by the library and the lower floor renovated as the new children’s wing.

Loah became a good friend to me and to the library. She was a leader of many storytimes over the years and a member of the library’s book discussion group. She joined the Friends of the Boyertown Community Library group and most recently was their secretary.

This past spring, Loah started a new program at the library, an activity near and dear to her heart… she has been hosting a Scrabble Players Club each Wednesday afternoon. She had gained several regular players who came each Wednesday to be challenged and have fun. It was a personal joy for me to see Loah sitting at the front table playing the game I know she loved with her new friends.

Over the years both my husband Dennis and I have visited Loah in her apartment to help her straighten out little troubles she had with her computer. Being able to go on the Internet and communicate with her far flung friends and family, especially her son in California and brother in Florida was important to her, but she also played Scrabble and the Yahoo! version called Literati online. Dennis and I enjoyed lunch at least a couple times with both Hal and Loah before Hal died a few years ago. And in recent years, I have been fortunate to have been entertained by Loah (the consummate hostess) in her apartment after making a quick fix for her computer.

Loah has presented us over the years with wonderful examples of her culinary skills. I especially remember some awesome Strawberry Bread I received as a Christmas present. One year during the apple season, Loah dried some apple slices and had a storytime about apples. That day each child went home with their own dried apple ornament.

I must also include a mention of her beautiful garden. Behind the children’s wing, right next to where all the library staff park our cars is a veritable gem. A jewel that I know was one of Loah’s pride and joys. The roses and potted arrangements, the Hydrangeas and other beautiful shrubs were all exquisitely landscaped and lovingly tended.

Many a day I would leave for my afternoon break and find Loah sitting on her wrought iron garden bench with a book or a letter, watching the birds play in the bird bath. Often, I didn’t have the time for a prolonged visit but we would chat for several moments before I went on my way. But there were also times when I would sit and we would talk at length. She always invited the library staff to make use of her garden for their lunch breaks and I know it was a wonderful sight to look out the window of the storytime room to see the birds and their antics among the garden arbors all year round.

We will all miss Loah.

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