EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 12, 2012

Plaistow senior is 'beacon of community'

Plaistow man, 89, honored for helping library

By Dustin Luca dluca@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — PLAISTOW — For children who visit the town’s public library, it’s a new flat-screen television. But for resident Roy Jeffrey, his latest donation means so much more.

Jeffrey, 89, is well known in town. He is a World War II veteran who is so active in the community, selectmen consider him Plaistow’s ombudsman.

Jeffrey said he donated the 39-inch, high-definition TV for the children’s reading room in memory of his wife of 65 years. Carolyn Jeffrey, 87, died June 8, 2011, following a brief illness.

While walking through the library, Jeffrey points out everything he donated in his wife’s name. A glass case of bird figurines stands out front, there’s a complete set of 50 state Beanie Babies in a collector’s case near the children’s area, and outside is a special granite bench.

Jeffrey and his family have contributed to the community in one way or another for years.

“I wasn’t born or raised here, but I’ve lived here for 50-odd years,” he said. “It is home.”

Carolyn was a part-time employee at the library when it was at the Town Hall on Main Street. When the library moved to the courthouse on Elm Street, she worked there as well, Jeffrey said.

“But she never worked in this building,” he said, referring to the library’s present home at 85 Main St.

Jeffrey donated the TV because the library wanted to add a visual element to its children’s reading program, according to library director Diane Arrato Gavrish. It cost about $350.

“We could not have had the money to do this kind of thing, so he came at the perfect time,” she said.

In recent months, Jeffrey has solicited a variety of library donations from area businesses.

Gavrish asked him to see if Wal-Mart on Plaistow Road could donate a TV, but he returned with bad news.

“He said, ‘Wal-Mart has donated so much for the year,’” Gavrish said. “‘But come out to my car. I have something.’”

It was a brand new TV Jeffrey purchased himself.

The library held a small ceremony yesterday to thank Jeffrey for his donation. During the event, children read along to an animated book on the TV as part of the library’s regular Thursday reading time.

Kate Lindblad, who brought her 2-year-old son, Dylan, called Jeffrey’s donation “fantastic.”

“The visual aid helps keep their attention, for sure,” she said.

Larissa Chiccino attended with her 3-year-old daughter, Alana. Chiccino said providing a visual element “helps her connect with the story.”

“You can hear the words, but to see the visuals, she can use her imagination with the pictures,” Chiccino said. “It helps her connect.”

Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald called Jeffrey a “beacon of the community” who is “exemplary of the best that Plaistow has to offer.”

“We’re all public servants,” Fitzgerald said. “We all have our work, but this is as important as everything we do.”

Gavrish said she’s only been director of the library for two years. But in that time, she’s come to know Jeffrey almost like a member of her own family.

“He feels the library is a place where he can work in his wife’s memory,” she said. “He’s chosen to make this a place where people can come and appreciate everything she has done.”

Jeffrey agreed.

“She’s here,” he said, “and I am sure she’s watching us today. I’m sure she would be happy for the kids.”