When this week started, I did not think that our community would soon be reeling from the terrible tragedy that struck a member of the Punta Gorda Library family. Mary Knowlton – wife, mother, teacher, librarian, book lover, volunteer, friend, and mentor – lost her life in a tragic accident. The circumstances surrounding her death are so bizarre that it is hard to wrap your head around it. News outlets have been hounding the community with insensitive questions such as, “What do you think about how she died?”, “Where were you when it happened?”, “Do you have any comments about the Police Department?” I know they are all looking for that “sound bite” that will get their story national attention, but these soul sucking vampires have put the sensational ahead of the humanity of the story. While the reporters wait for more about the circumstances leading up to Mary’s death, they finally started reporting on who Mary was. I have learned so much about this wonderful woman that I didn’t know about her.
I first met Mary Knowlton when I was transferred from the Port Charlotte Library to the Punta Gorda Library in February 2012. At the time, she was the President of the Friends of the Punta Gorda Library Board. She fought passionately for the Punta Gorda Library and the community and even after passing the baton to the current President, Katie Mazzi, remained fully involved in supporting the library, the library staff, and the patrons who use the library.
During a particularly stressful time at the library, Mary took me aside, put her arm around me and offered her support to me. She told me to reach out if I ever needed something. Her kindness toward me will never be forgotten.
One of the things I admired most about Mary was how welcoming she was. I have experienced her greeting homeless patrons at the library in the same manner that she greeted national best-selling authors who visited. I keep expecting to hear her walk into the library and say, in her sing-song voice “Hi Kathy. How are you? What have you been reading lately?”
It is my hope that the world will remember her kindness, passion for education and libraries, and all of the things she did for the community. My prayers are with her family and friends.
The Friends of the Punta Gorda Library posted a wonderful memorial to Mary on their website.
Thanks for reading.