Cleda Holcomb’s 22 years of volunteer service at the Joyner-Green Valley Branch Library came to an end this week as she prepared to move back home to Vancouver, Washington, where she will live one block from a sister and will be surrounded by nieces and nephews.
At 85, Holcomb was motivated to make the move when a couple in Green Valley told her they were moving back East to be near family.
“I thought, if they can do it, I can do it,” she said.
As for the Northwest's sketchy weather, “It’s something I’ll have to reckon with,” she said.
Supervisor Steve Christy honored Holcomb on March 5 at the Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting with a Certificate of Appreciation for making the library a welcoming place. She spoke briefly, about the reactions she heard when she made the announcement she was moving.
“Since then, it’s been one thing after another that people have told me how much they appreciated me. I can’t go on because it’s just been overwhelming and most gratifying,” she said at the supervisor chamber.
“There’s always been a need for volunteers at the library. Volunteers play a big part here,” she said of the four hours a week she spent there. Holcomb checked in new books, shelved books on hold for library customers, got to see every new book that came in. She spoke about the many changes in her 22 years and said computers were a big learning curve but reserving books is a lot easier.
“We used to have to hand-write everything. And adding new books used to take time. Now they arrive ready to shelve,” she said.
Holcomb had high praise for the $200,000 renovation in 2018 that brought new carpet, new shelves, lighting and an openness to the library, which joined the Pima County system in 1974.
Holcomb is a natural reader. Her favorite books are those with a bit of intrigue and mystery. She also enjoys love stories.
Like many of her generation, she likes to hold a book but will read on her iPad when she’s traveling.
Joyner-Green Valley Library Branch Manager Kathy Konecny will miss Holcomb.
“It has been a privilege working with Cleda over the years,” she said. “Not only was she dedicated but her fun-loving and kind nature was often the highlight of our day. She will be sorely missed.”
Holly Schaffer, Community Relations Manager for the Pima County Public Library, said volunteering came naturally to Holcomb and keeping busy and giving back define her.
“We wish to thank Cleda for her dedication, kind nature, enthusiasm and, of course, her 22 years of service,” she said.
Schaffer recalls Holcomb once saying, “Looking back, I never once woke up and thought, ‘Oh, I’ve got to go to the library again.’ It was my home away from home.”
Tuesday was Holcomb's last day volunteering.
“I’ll miss the library here,” she said. “Once I get here, I’m among friends. It’s a happy family here.”
A party is planned for Friday. Holcomb has also been a volunteer at the Green Valley-Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce for 16 years and has volunteered for years at the United Methodist Church in Green Valley.
Contact Green Valley News freelance reporter Ellen Sussman at email@example.com.