The memorial gift to the North Adams Public Library was unveiled Thursday afternoon by the family of Jody Gottwald: daughters Katrina, Melissa and Jennifer Gottwald, her husband, Richard, and sister Mary Ann Abuisi, who donated the statue.
Mary Ann Abuisi displays an image of the bronze plaque that will be added to the statue 'Read to Me.'
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The late Judith Ann "Jody" LaFortune Gottwald will be remembered for her love of books, reading and libraries.
The city native was memorialized on Thursday with the unveiling of a bronze statue of two children reading a book set by the East Main Street entrance of the North Adams Public Library where she began her long career as a librarian.
The bronze was a gift from Mary Ann LaFortune Abuisi, who remembered how she and her sister would walk from their East Main home to the library on a regular basis.
"She walked to this library almost every day from the time that she was 4, and continued to be so interested in reading that she ended up becoming a librarian, she was so inspired," the former city clerk said.
Her desire, will read an accompanying plaque, was "to inspire everyone, young or old, to enjoy the adventures, imagination and knowledge books can provide."
Gottwald, who died on March 2 at age 77, so impressed the staff at the library with her voracious reading habits that became a page there in high school. She went on to earn a master's degree and work as a librarian at colleges in Maryland and Indiana, finishing her career at the University of Indiana at South Bend after 22 years.
"It was a long, significant career but she always remembered North Adams, she started here when she worked as a youngster in the library," said her husband, Richard, in thanking Abuisi and the city for the memorial.
Abuisi said previously she had been considering how to give something back the city and thought the bronze the right fit. It now sits near the memorial paver to the sisters' parents, Leeward and Ozelina LaFortune.
Also attending the unveiling were here daughters Katrina Gottwald of South Bend, Jennifer Gottwald of Gaithersburg, Md. and Melissa Gottwald of China Valley, Ariz., a couple grandchildren and her great-grandchild Tobias Carrillo.
"North Adams has always been an important part of our family," said Jennifer Gottwald. We would come out here twice a year usually when we were kids, so we always knew the library and how this is where mom started.
"So to have a memorial here feels really special, and tp have the opportunity to all come out as a family and see it and share it with the next generation is awesome."
The unveiling was followed by a tea party in the library's formal rooms with several dozen members of the community, friends and family, and local officials.
Abuisi thanked those who helped make the memorial happen, particularly retired Library Director Mindy Hackner who "kicked it off" in sending it to the mayor.
"It's clear from what you've told me and from what we read in the story of Jodi's life, how much this library meant to her how much reading meant to her, and how much it inspired her her life and her career," said Mayor Thomas Bernard. "And what's also clear is that she never forgot North Adams and with this gift, North Adams will never forget her."
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