Beloved librarian left Opp a better place

Published 12:03 am Friday, April 25, 2014



Opp residents are mourning the loss of their beloved librarian, Gayle Presley Clare.

Clare, 68, lost her battle to cancer Wednesday evening.

During Clare’s tenure at the Opp Public Library, the library has grown, and in true testament for her love of books, the family is requesting donations be made to the Friends of the Opp Public Library.

“Books were her first love, and we would like to continue her legacy at our library,” Leslie Clare Jones said on Facebook.

Lifelong friend, who was more of a brother, Robert Boothe said they spent many weekends together growing up, and Clare was often left in charge of the younger siblings.

“She did not necessarily enjoy being the big sister because we had the pleasure of aggravating her,” he quipped. “She’s always been a bookworm. She could be at the beach, and everyone else would be playing in the water, and she’d be reading.”

Boothe recalled that Clare was first a teacher, which everyone thought was her calling.

“When she landed at the library, we all discovered that should have been her thing the whole time,” he said. “It was her world, and she came at the right time. She was really working on getting us into the computer age.”

Former Opp Mayor Durwood Edgar, who was mayor when Clare was hired, said, “she turned the library completely around, and it has become the best library we’ve ever had. She was wonderful to work with and will be greatly missed by all of Opp.”

Opp Public Library board president Cheryl Graves said hiring Clare as the library director “is the best thing that has ever happened to Opp Public Library.”

“I was vice president when we hired her,” Graves said. “Back then, the board did everything, including the hiring and the firing.”

Graves said then-president Barbara Reynolds suggested Clare and the rest is history.

“There have been so many upgrades since she took over,” she said. “She made it look welcoming when you came into the library, and she helped organize the summer reading program and got more children into the library. Before she took over, the library had become dull and out-of-date.”

“Wow, what she did for Opp’s Public Library,” said Julie Worley. “My children have enjoyed it so much since she came to be at the helm. She has left a legacy. Hers are shoes that will be hard to fill.”

During Clare’s battle with cancer, she continued work at the OPL, and is remembered as an inspiration to all who knew her.

“She continued to work the whole time she was in chemo,” Graves said. “She sported her earrings along with a smile plastered across her face.”

Opp Mayor John Bartholomew has ordered flags to half-staff.

“She was a very dedicated librarian and just dedicated to our city,” he said. “We lowered our flags to half-staff today in her memory. She will be missed.”

Funeral services for Clare will be held at 3 p.m. Sun., April 27, at Westview Baptist Church with burial following in Peaceful Acres Memorial Gardens.

Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service.

Clare is survived by her husband, Jim; daughter and son-in-law, Leslie and Andy Jones; grandchildren, Megan and Sydney Jones; brother and sister-in-law, Tim and Annette Presley; and sisters and brothers-in-law, Susan Presley, Ed Kohaut and Marilyn and Terry Kendrick.

Donations may be made to the Friends of the Library Fund, 1604 N. Main Street, Opp, AL 36467.