Apples don't fall far from (library) tree

Glynis Crawford Smith/The HighlanderRecipients of Apple Awards from Friends of the Marble Falls Library are, seated from left, Gay Nell Vinson and Donna Herrington (on behalf of their mother Margie Schroeter), Nadeen Comann, Dolores Whitman, Ronnie Huber; on the second row, from left, Rebecca Nunnally, Lynda Burgess, Joe DeAtkine, Syl Gaisbauer, Bob Macrae, Jane O’Donnell and Sara Teague and, third row, Charlie Cummins, John Racz.

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

An Apple Tree ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 21, honored volunteers with Friends of the Marble Falls Library who logged more than 290 years of service to reading resource at 101 Main Street.

Of 17 volunteers honored, none had devoted fewer than 15 years to the programs of the library and efforts of the Friends, including the Library Thrift Store at 300 Avenue J. Each added an apple and a leaf to the towering tree near the entrance to the library and Mardi Cockerham, president of the Friends, explained its significance.

“The Apple Tree had its beginnings in the early 1990s as a fundraising concept, when the Marble Falls Library was in its previous location at Fourth and Main,” she said. “The Friends determined that a new building, three times the size of the old library, was needed to meet the library needs of the rapidly growing Marble Falls community. So the Friends began the daunting task of raising $1.5 million.
The Apple Tree was just one of many fundraising projects.

“It was begun to involve people of all ages and pocketbooks, and two of our recipients today got it started,” said Cockerham. “John Racz came up with the idea that, for the cost of an apple a day (about 30 cents at that time), a pledge of $100 a year could be made to the library. Families were encouraged to 'buy their kids an apple.' An Apple Tree mural was painted on the Fourth Street library wall by local artist Jane Markley and gold paper apples were affixed to the tree as pledges came in.”

After the Friends had raised $750,000, half the needed amount, the City of Marble Falls financed the other half through 20-year certificates of obligation, which were repaid several years early by the Friends, and the new Main Street library opened its doors on Oct. 4, 1997, Cockerham explained.

The new Apple Tree mural in the current library was still devoted to fundraising. Bronze, silver, and gold leaves represented pledges of $100, $500, and $1,000. Bob Macrae cut red craft store apples in half on his band saw and the “harvest” donations began to grow again.

Over time, the focus of the Apple Tree has shifted from recognizing monetary contributions to a focus on contributions of time and talents, recognized with more apples.

“If each of the 17 volunteers being recognized today averaged eight hours a week in volunteer time (which is probably low), their collective total is almost 130,000 hours, a monetary equivalent of more than one million dollars, devoted to supporting the Marble Falls Library,” said Cockerham.

The volunteers were Lynda Burgess, Nadeen Comann, Joe DeAtkine, Syl Gaisbauer, Jan Harris, Ronnie Huber, Bob and Shirley Macrae, Rebecca Brown Nunnally, Jane O’Donnell, Racz, Mildred Strickland, Sara Teague, Jolene Varese, and Dolores Whitman.

Margie Ebeling Schroeter, who passed away at the age of 97 on Aug. 2, also was honored, represented by her daughters. Donna Heffington and Gay Vinson. She had volunteered at the thrift store for 27 years.

“She put her heart in all she did,” Cockerham told her daughters. “Thank you for her service.”

Shirley Macrae, who passed away at the age of 84 on April 26, may have been the more constant volunteer over her 17 years with the Friends, but Cockerham noted that her husband Bob had been right there most of the time.

“The staff says they miss her and speak of her often,” said Cockerham. “We hope you will find this apple to be a fitting memorial to her.”

Burgess started volunteering at the Library in the fall of 1999, when Diana Collins was the Librarian. Over 17 years, she did a little bit of everything at the library – from manning the information desk and the circulation desk, checking books in and out, and shelving books, to cleaning CDs and DVDs. She served on the Friends board from 2013-15.

Comann has logged 20 years. She had served in both the old and new libraries, Cockerham said.

Cummins, a 19-year veteran, was described as a “Jack-of-all-duties” at the Thrift Store, doing whatever needs to be done. He has served as both vice president and president of the Friends board.

DeAtkine was honored for 18 years, serving for 12 years on the Friends board, both as president and vice president, and six years at the Thrift Store. In his years on the board, he served on the building committee for the current Thrift Store, worked with Librarian Mary Jackson to initiate ebooks and magazines online, served on the budget committee, was involved with the library remodeling, and led the committee that bought the lot adjacent to the Thrift Store.

His most satisfying memory is the success of the store since Virginia Cervantez became the new manager, Cockerham reported.

Gaisbauer has volunteered at the library for 16 years.

“Some of us bring little more to volunteering than a willing spirit,” said Cockerham. “But Syl is an especially skilled volunteer, as his job was repairing library books. A special project he enjoyed was making wooden puzzles from children’s book covers. The children enjoyed them in the library and later in some of the elementary schools.”

Harris has served as a volunteer at the library and on the board as a membership chair and as secretary for more than 15 years.

“Jan has been a lover of books and libraries since her youth and throughout her life,” said Cockerham. “She has supported reading and libraries and has promoted this love to her students.”

Huber has been a familiar volunteer face for more than 20 years, working at the circulation desk, checking books in and out, and shelving books.

Nunnally grew up with the Marble Falls Library in her life. As an adult, she served on the Friends board from 1982-2002, and will finish an additional three-year term in December--”an amazing 23 years in all,” said Cockerham.

O’Donnell has been a Library and Thrift Store volunteer for 15 years. For seven of those years she served on the Friends Board and its Long Range Planning Committee, where she was instrumental in the decision to buy the lot next door to the Thrift Store.

Racz, who attended the ceremony with his wife Barbara at his side, served on the Friends board for 15 years and served as the Friends representative on the Burnet Country Library System Board for 10 years.

“He was heavily involved in fundraising for the current library building and followed that by serving as the project manager for the Friends for the construction of the building,” said Cockerham..

Strickland has been volunteering at the Thrift Store since 1992–24 years.

She is proud that her volunteering at the Thrift Store benefits the whole Marble Falls community by raising funds that support the library, Cockerham said.

Teague began serving on the Friends Board 21 years ago, in 1995, at the old library on Fourth Street and continued until the new Thrift Store opened in 2007. She also served as a library volunteer.
“She has been monitoring monthly numbers at the Thrift Store for years, watching them grow year after year,” Cockerham said. “Her favorite memory as a volunteer is of the large crowd lining Main Street, moving books down the line of people that stretched from the old library to the new one in its current location.”

Varese has been a Thrift Store volunteer for 16 years and has worked in almost every area and Whitman has volunteered for 19 years at the Thrift Store and helped set of the Library Heritage Room.

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