Sunday, February 5, 2012

Kinnelon's Wanda Gilbert 1929-2011. Remembered on 2/19/12

Wanda Gilbert, amazingly dedicated Kinnelon Library volunteer, will be remembered on February 19, 2012 at the Kinnelon Library from 4 to 6pm. You are invited to attend. Light refreshments will be served.

I met Wanda Gilbert last summer when I visited with Barbara Owens, Kinnelon Library Director. Wanda was busy at work, processing the daily delivery of inter-library materials. She had a no-nonsense, intensely competent look about her. I can just imagine her as a surgical nurse. I bet the surgeons knew better than to not take her seriously!

When I learned that she had died shortly after that meeting, I was saddened. I felt that I had ever so briefly come into contact with one of those special people, who are filled with hidden force and quietly shape the world around them, and whom I wanted to learn more about.  Based on the comments that Ron Leavesley shares with us below, Wanda Gilbert was that and more.

Kinnelon's Wanda Gilbert: 1929-2011

Wanda Gilbert was a very special volunteer and woman who dedicated sixteen years of service to the Kinnelon Library.

Circulation desk at the Kinnelon Public Library has been dedicated
to the memory of John a. Odenthal, who was borough clerk and a
councilman. Taking part in a ceremony at which plaque was installed
on nearby wall were, from left, Nancy Allerman, president of the library
trustees board; Wanda Gilbert, Odenthal's daugher; Julia Odenthal,
his widow; and Herbert Adicks, president of the Friends of the Library.

Wanda was always willing, helpful, able and a much appreciated volunteer for the Friends of the Kinnelon Library, the Center for Lifelong Learning and the Kinnelon Library.

Wanda was a lifelong resident of Kinnelon, witnessing its growth and prosperity during her 82 years in this community. She attended the Sisco School, which was then a one-room school house. She was the daughter of John and Julia Odenthal.  Her father was on the Kinnelon Borough Council and was also Borough Clerk. Her mother was actively involved in the community.

Wedding Day - April 14, 1951 - John and Wanda Gilbert
In 1951, Wanda married John Gilbert and had two sons - Corey and Brett, and  two grandchildren.

After retiring from her career as a surgical nurse, Wanda then turned her time and dedication to the Kinnelon Library. Just count the many ways that Wanda's commitment, dedication, determination and financial support have contributed to the library year after year -- the library she was so proud and fond of. She dearly appreciated what the Kinnelon library meant to the Kinnelon community.

Wanda was an avid hiker, who helped establish the CLL ambling and hiking programs, which continue to attract new and returning members each semester.  She was a CLL and Friends Board member and all-around volunteer whenever and wherever needed. She was instrumental in organizing and running the children's books at the Annual Book Sale and was an invaluable volunteer for the Arts & Crafts Festival, Barn Theater and so many other volunteer events.

Her dedication deserves a very special thanks for so many reasons. She was a very special woman, who made her presence felt in a very quiet and private way. However, there was that passion to speak out when she believed something was wrong or wasn't being done properly.  She was by no means shy! It is her dedication, passion and friendship that we will all remember fondly and so deeply miss.

You are welcome to join us on February 19th to recognize and celebrate a special volunteer and woman. There will be comments and remembrances about Wanda's contributions and a plaque presented that will be placed in the Kinnelon Library meeting rooms. If you would like to make a donation to the Friends of the Kinnelon Library in her name, it will be gratefully accepted and acknowledged.

If you have special memories of Wanda Gilbert, please do share them here in the comments or send me an email at and I will be sure to forward them to Ron to include in the February 19th ceremony.

Thank you!


Anonymous said...

Sad to hear about Mrs. Gilbert. I remember Bret Gilbert--(?) not sure why--Also Leslie Adicks (Herb Adicks, Friends of the Library) was in my class. She was such a smart little gal--very beautiful handwriting. I hope that my memory isn't getting too fuzzy. Yes. she sat in the front of all the classes because her name started with an "A." I was "W". I usually got the back with Wisco, Whitehill and Wohltmann--(Where are my yearbooks so I can check out the spellings)

My mother was always dragging us to the library. Sorry I do not remember Wanda Gilbert. I know that we used all the libraries to the max! The Butler Library was a little old church downtown Butler. I remember feeling very strange going up to the alter, the sacred space to look for books. I remember the distinctly musty "Old Books" smell! This however was not an unpleasant smell. Butler always smelled awful due the "American Hard Rubber" a plant that made bowling balls. Butler also had a lovely little Band Shell--like a gazebo where the band played on special occasions.

Our family made the pilgrimage to the Montclair Library where one was allowed to take out ten books each for a period of one month. There were 6 kids and two parents--lot of books! My sister was the best reader and she gobbled down her books at once. She loved books. She read over 300 books in 5th grade. (Wendy if you are reading this, did I get the grade correct?) However it was I who became a school Library/ Media Specialist for 29 years!

Kim Vawter

CB Whittemore said...


Thanks for sharing these memories. I love hearing how your family used the libraries in and around Kinnelon.


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