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Longtime library, flower lover Jean Frith honored by garden club
Former Yuma resident Jean Frith, who passed away in 2008, was honored by the Hermosa Garden Club Friday afternoon.
Club members presented Frith's offspring with a plaque commemorating her life and her dedication to both the club and the library. The plaque will be hung in the Heritage Library, 350 S. 3rd Ave.
“She has always been very active with the club and always busy with the library,” said Carroll Pitts, Hermosa Garden Club president, adding “the Garden Club thought it was a really neat thing to do” to present Frith's family with the plaque.
Frith's son Robert was “very proud” to receive the honor along with other family members at the ceremony.
“She was quite involved in the community,” he said. “She loved libraries and she loved flowers, so it was a perfect combination. This is very nice to have people still remember her.”
During her lifetime, Jean served for many years as a Yuma County Library board director, worked to keep the libraries funded, and helped add new library branches in the area.
Frith was born on Feb. 3, 1915. As a little girl, she watched workers construct the Yuma Carnegie Library, which is now known as the Heritage Library.
“She lived close to here when they were first pouring the foundation,” Robert said after the presentation.
“She would come over and sneak in to watch the construction job, and left her footprints somewhere in the cement that would become part of the foundation of the library.”
According to the Frith family, those footprints are located somewhere in the library basement, but cannot be seen currently.
“She left an early imprint here,” Robert said. “She adopted the library, and the library sort of adopted her. It was a good relationship for both of them.”
The library opened on Feb. 24, 1921. When it was completed, “I was among the first group of kids to go to the public library,” Jean once told the Yuma Sun. “Once it opened, I would go there once a week and check out all the books I could carry.”
Jean continually encouraged Yuma residents of all ages to read during her lifetime.
“I would tell people to read and I'd tell them in capital letters,” she said with a laugh in 2006. “It's never a waste of time to read. It opens whole worlds to your imagination and let's you go to places you might never see otherwise.”
Jean passed her love of reading onto her three children Betsy (Gottsponer), Richard and Robert.
“This is where all the knowledge is,” Robert said while pointing at the shelves of books inside the Heritage Library. “Being in a library encourages you to explore, encourages you to read and to reach out beyond what you are normally used to. You could travel the world.”
When he was a child Jean would send Robert “down here to keep me out of trouble,” he added with a smile.
Chris McDaniel can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6849.