Dorothy Walters, who volunteered with the Friends of the San Anselmo Library for more than two decades, will receive a Silver Award.
It will be presented at the 7 p.m. Town Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 26 — in absentia, at her request, because the 85-year-old recently moved to the Spring Lake Village Retirement Center Santa Rosa and traveling at night is difficult for her.
The Quality of Life Commission gives the award to “unsung heroes,” those who’ve benefitted San Anselmo and vicinity with no expectation of reward or recognition.
Walters, a cheerful, spunky and articulate woman, recalls it was “a little over 20 years ago” — around the time she was retiring from a 35-year teaching career” — that she started helping at Friends’ book sales (“because I’d always wanted to do something community-minded”).
She eventually became the prime book-sorter and, for the past three years, was “in charge.”
She insists, however, that being book sales commandant “is not a one-man job — it’s about teamwork.” She says the “loyalty of the others is unbelievable,” and she underscores that “the Friends really do a lot for the library.”
That includes earning from about $1,800 to $2,000 at each book sale.
Asked about her fondest memory, Walters doesn’t hesitate: “I remember that we always had something to laugh over.”
Her most dramatic moment? “When the library basement flooded. I rushed there to rescue books. The ones lower down were toast, but we brought stacks and stacks to my home.”
Most problematic? “Sometimes we’d get really pornographic books. What to do with them without censoring? We donated them to another organization.”
She also recollects selling a “first edition, in pristine condition, of the 1906 Exhibition in San Francisco. I’d priced it at $60 but when two people started fighting over it, I realized I’d underestimated its value.”
Nowadays the Friends rely on computers to gauge the value of books they suspect might be unique.
“Our books are a bargain, the cheapest in the county,” she says, “because we’re at the end of the line, not in the main traffic patterns.”
Walters’ love affair with books has been life-long. She still reads three to five of them a week.
She started reading at age 4, graduating before many years into series such as “The Bobbsey Twins” (“which I liked even more than the “Nancy Drew” books) and “Little House on the Prairie.”
Today’s preferences are eclectic.
They include nonfiction titles such as “Partners in Command” (which probes the relationship of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Gen. George C. Marshall) and “Unbroken,” a look at an American World War II soldier who’d been captured and tortured; “The Wandering Falcon,” a novel about Afghanistan; and mysteries by Alan Bradley and Louise Penney.
Walters’ very first venture in a library came in Seattle when she was in the fourth grade. “I went there at least once a week,” she says, “and I read every book in the Children’s Department in two years’ time.”
Her volunteerism has not been limited to the Friends. She long was active in the Environmental Forum of Marin, as a trainer and, ultimately, as its president.
Although she now resides in Santa Rosa, she says, “San Anselmo, where I lived for 27 years, will never be replaced as paradise on earth.”
She will become the 31st Silver Award winner.
Previous recipients were Joy Snyder, Joey Epstein, Shirley Paradiso, Bonnie Carson, Ted Freeman, Sue McDowell, Phyllis Ostrander, Carla Overberger, Judy Coy, Kathy Thornton, Dick Stutsman, Nancy Vernon, Barbara Dwyer, Peter Penhallow, the husband-and-wife team of Teri and Alex Rockas, Eli Welber and Steve Lee, Grace Komo, Ben Burtt, Royce Truex and Jo Gross, Michael Schwab, Deborah Cichocki, Kay Peacock, Frank Ortiz, Tom Boss, the husband-wife team of Patricia and Chuck Swensen, Bill Abright, Cynnie Barrows, Marilyn Girodo, Sophia Spencer hand Dollie Frauens.
The broad-based Silver Awards and the environmentally oriented Green Awards are presented in alternate months.
Nominations for either can be hand-delivered or mailed to: Quality of Life Commission, c/o Town of San Anselmo, 525 San Anselmo Ave., or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.