Witty, vivacious and utterly devoted to her community, longtime volunteer Rhea Murray has left her touch everywhere in Petoskey. For many years she has been the guiding light of the Friends of the Petoskey Library, as well as plethora of other community volunteer organizations, including the Petoskey Area Garden Club, Little Traverse Historical Society and Crooked Tree Arts Center. A retired librarian from the Petoskey elementary schools and Petoskey Middle School, Rhea was a member of the inaugural board of the Friends of the Petoskey Library, and has been mentoring her fellow board members ever since. Known for her keen sense of humor, honest, perceptive comments and delightful anecdotes, board members have praised her as the historian, inspiration and conscience of the organization.
Due to health issues, Rhea recently moved to Independence Village and must limit some of her activities, but she still maintains a lively interest in all her community organizations. The board of the Friends decided this was the appropriate time to recognize Rhea’s many contributions to literacy and library programs. In her honor the Friends dedicated $4,000 to fund a special new collection of award-winning fiction and non-fiction books, known as “The Rhea Murray Awards Collection.” Books from this collection, which are located near the new book area across from the front desk, are available for checkout.
The collection will be stocked with winners from the past three years, including over one dozen awards such as Michigan Notable Books, National Book Award, Nebula Award (Science-Fiction), Pulitzer Prize, and more. As a retired librarian Rhea valued outstanding literature and notable works of nonfiction. With each award selected, the Petoskey District Library collection development team has chosen titles that reflect Rhea’s high standards.
The Friends commissioned a plaque above the collection which reads “The Rhea Murray Collection: In honor of Rhea Murray, charter member of the Friends of the Petoskey Library. Heartfelt thanks to Rhea for her 20 years of exemplary and unequaled service, 2017.” Board members and volunteers recently gathered at the library to officially present the collection to Rhea, who in typical fashion entertained the group with her witty remarks. Also typical of Rhea, she then donated $1000 to further enhance the collection.
Mary Daniels, president of the Friends, commented “Rhea has been a creative, knowledgeable, active board member for so many years, using her experience and expertise as a librarian to enhance the Friends’ activities and projects. We would never have been so successful in fundraising and programs without her wisdom, great ideas, and, of course her clever sense of humor and feistiness!”