HANSON — The community is mourning the loss of Hanson Public Library Director Nancy M. Cappellini, a loving person who made friends with colleagues and made her friends feel like part of the family.
Cappellini died at home Sunday, Dec. 18 after a long illness [see obituary, page 13]. The library was slated to be closed Thursday, Dec. 22 to permit the staff to attend her funeral.
“Nancy Cappellini was a positive, welcoming presence for everyone who came to the library,” said Library Trustees Chairman Jennifer Hickey. “She was a joy to work with. Everyone liked Nancy and the energy that she brought to every interaction.” Hickey said to Cappellini, running the library was more than a job — she truly cared about the patrons, staff, Trustees and the Foundation.
“She will be sorely missed,” Hickey said. “Nancy became a good friend to me over the years, and I am heartbroken at losing her.”
The Board of Selectmen also honored Cappellini, observing a moment of silence in her memory Tuesday night.
“I know she’s had a great impact on a number of people — seniors and our kids in our town,” said Selectmen Chairman James McGahan. “I know that she’ll be sorely missed.”
Many of those who knew and worked with her in town government echoed that sentiment.
“She was such a special, uplifting person,” Town Clerk Elizabeth Sloan said. “It’s such a loss. She was such a presence in that library and even in Town Hall when she was here.”
Administrative Assistant to the Board of Selectmen Meredith Marini said she will remember Cappellini as a pleasant person with a ready smile.
“She had a great outlook on life,” Marini said. “It’s heart-breaking, she’s definitely too young to be gone.”
Those who worked closely with Cappellini were deeply shaken by the news of her passing, said Senior Center Director Mary Collins, whose facility shares the same building as the Hanson Public Library.
“It was a very family-like atmosphere,” Collins said of the library. “Each one of them (staff members) said to me that’s because she created that.”
Collins spent part of the day Monday with the library staff.
“It’s so personal,” Collins said of the loss. “I just feel truly that she was a woman of integrity and compassion and she always had what was in the best interest of the patrons in mind.”
Cappellini was always looking for ways to improve the library’s services and involve more people in programs, including the founding of the monthly Book-to-Movie group. She was also an advocate of agriculture, including a farm babies petting zoo in the annual summer reading program kickoff events and working to help form the town’s Agriculture Committee, on which she served as its clerk. She also served on a past reuse committee for the Plymouth County Hospital site.
“I think she was one of Hanson’s treasures, and hopefully people had an opportunity to know her,” Collins said.
Library friends and colleagues also spoke of their friend.
“I worked with Nancy serving as Library Trustee for five years, and I always admired her grace, humor, and patience,” said Trustee Helen Levesque wrote on Cappellini’s condolence page at the Keohane Funeral Homes website.
Library staff and trustees in Whitman were also saddened by Cappellini’s loss.
“Nancy was a wonderful woman,” said Whitman Public Library Director Andrea Rounds. “She was really well-respected in the library field and we’re so sorry to hear about her passing.”
Rounds said her Hanson counterpart will be truly missed.
“She was one of the most welcoming people,” agreed Michael Ganshirt, administrative assistant to Whitman Town Clerk Dawn Varley and a Whitman Library trustee. “Every time you went in the library, she always came out and said hi and spent some time with you. The town is going to miss her greatly.”
Ganshirt, who is also president of Whitman and Hanson Dollars for Scholars, said Cappellini was supportive of that cause and “anything that anyone else did,” he said.
Whitman Public Library Senior Library Technician Mary Casey said Cappellini had the remarkable ability to make one feel part of her family.
“She exuded such grace, compassion and warmth,” Casey said. “She met everyone with her radiant smile and had the ability to put everyone at ease.”
Casey recalled a Mass. Library Association conference dinner in May, during which Cappellini just happened to sit next to her.
“I had an extraordinary evening with her because … she was just a fun person, a very down-to-earth person, funny and just very graceful,” Casey said. “She was just a real lady.”