HANSON — A day filled with all the things she loved — family, friends, children and animals — celebrated the dedication of the Nancy M. Cappellini Children’s Room at the Hanson Public Library on Friday, April 21.
Topping off the festivities, her grandson, Jack, grabbed the corner of a blue cloth covering the room’s new sign to unveil it before a flock of the family’s racing pigeons was released outside the front door.
Despite a steady, chilly drizzle that moved a Hanson Grain-provided petting zoo inside, the library was jam-packed with residents, library trustees and town officials in honor of the former library director who died in December after a battle with cancer.
“It’s unbelievable,” Steven Cappellini said of the event celebrating his late wife. “It’s really nice — a big honor for Nancy.”
As he spoke, the library/senior center’s community room was abuzz with children and their parents, petting rabbits and goats and peering into an incubator of poultry chicks. He said the large crowd was an amazing tribute to Nancy.
The library staff also presented him with a journal in which patrons have penned their thoughts and memories of her over the past few months.
“She would have loved this — kids everywhere, animals, family,” Cara Cappellini said of her mother. “We miss her terribly, but we’ve been so carried by the love and support of the people in the community.”
“It just shows the impact that Nancy had,” Library Director Karen Stolfer said. “It’s great to have all these people here. We were hoping the weather would hold out, but things happen and you have to make it work.”
Activities for children included bookmark coloring, balloon animals, face painting and a make-and-take window “greenhouse” in a plastic sandwich bag for vegetable seeds provided by the Hanson Eco-Explorers 4-H Club.
Selectman Bill Scott, who worked with Nancy Cappellini on the town’s Agricultural Commission, noted the day was a perfect celebration of the important things in her life.
“This is a real tribute,” Scott said. “We’re going to miss her dearly — she was a peach. I loved talking to her and working with her on the agricultural issues. She had a heart of gold.”
Scott also noted Cappellini’s sunny personality will be missed.
“You never saw her without a smile,” he said. “She always had a pleasant approach to things. … I’d rather have her here, but this [turnout] is great.”
Stolfer officially welcomed the crowd for the noon unveiling, followed by remarks by Children’s Librarian Kate Godwin, Trustees Chairman Jennifer Hickey and Trustee Linda Wall.
“She had a great impact, not only on the library staff and patrons, but on the whole community,” Stolfer said of her predecessor who had started as the children’s librarian.
Godwin noted Cappellini’s unique impact as a “ray of light for so many” in the community.
“I learned so much from her in the years that I knew her,” Godwin said. “She was the most giving soul. She was the true definition of kindness embodied.”
Hickey’s emotional remarks centered on Cappellini’s legacy and how pleased she would be to see Stolfer, whom she had hired, succeed her as director.
“I know I speak on behalf of all the trustees when I say we whole-heartedly agreed” with Stolfer’s suggestion about naming the children’s room for Cappellini.
“We know that Nancy Cappellini has left her mark on the Hanson Public Library and on generations of patrons and their children,” Hickey said. “The children’s room is a place where magic and adventure are only a page away and Nancy understood this — she instilled a love of library in countless children. Her love and devotion and commitment can be found in every book and on every shelf in this room.”
Her voice wavering, Hickey said the room represents a “perpetual thank-you to Nancy and her family” and will continue to serve as Cappellini saw it — “a home away from home for so many people.”
Wall also extended the trustees’ thanks and noted she counted Cappellini, who started her library career at the Indian Head School, as a friend for more than 25 years.
“Children and family were always very important to Nancy,” Wall said, describing Cappellini as a devoted and effective leader who always showed kindness to others. “We know that Nancy’s award-winning smile is shining on us today.”
Refreshments were served following the ceremonies.