Former librarian says life without reading is no life at all

Published 10:54 pm Monday, April 30, 2007

By Staff
Believes children should grow up using library
During the day, visitors will find Lillian Wingertsahn, 91, reading in her favorite spot, by the front storm door with the sun pouring in across the book on her lap.
At night, Wingertsahn reads by lamplight, sometimes all night until she finishes a book and then starts on another.
“I can’t be without a book,” Wingertsahn said. She lives in Washington with Joan and Brian Woodham, her daughter and son-in-law.
She said living in Washington is “restful after my busy life.”
For 21 years, Wingertsahn was a librarian. She worked in circulation and reference, she said.
Mostly, Wingertsahn helped students with research, she said.
Wingertsahn grew up with five sisters and two brothers in Pittsburgh. “We always had to have something to do,” she said.
Her mother instilled in her a love for the library.
But to her, reading was a pleasure. She said she would stay up all night reading.
Before Wingertsahn graduated high school, she worked in a library, and then went on to major in library science. Her daughter said she met her husband, Gerard, in a library.
When they first met, he taught accounting. Wingertsahn said, “He hated accounting.”
She convinced her husband to go back to school to get a degree in library science. “He saw how good I had it, and I told him ‘There’s no reason why you can’t do it,” she said.
They both worked at the St. Bonaventure University library in New York.
Her husband later became the director of a public library in Anniston, Ala., where they lived before she moved to Washington.
“We were married for 50 years in May 2004 and he died in August,” Wingertsahn said.
Her daughter said both her parents encouraged her to read.
“I would read 10 books every week. That was normal. I’d get up an hour before school to read and in the summertime I would stay up until I finished a book,” she said.
Wingertsahn broke her hip after a fall shortly after her husband died. She said before that she used to walk every day.
Her son-in-law said even after she broke her hip, she got up and used a walker. Recently, she’s broken her leg and has to stay in a wheel chair.
Eleria Trimble cares for Wingertsahn during the day. “She is very strong-willed,” Trimble said.
Trimble takes Wingertsahn around town.
“She has read all the large-print books at Brown Library, so now we go to Sheppard Library,” Trimble said. “She reads all day and every day,” she said.
Her son-in-law said, “Except when she eats and sleeps. She likes to reads the funnies, too.”
Reading is important, Wingertsahn said. “You learn a lot about everything, the more books you read on different topics. You can experience distant places you don’t have a chance to go to,” she said.