Honoring One of Our Own
by Mary Fran Nash
In retrospect, writing this article for Virginia Libraries should have been a relatively simple task. The article's purpose is to inform readers and members about the decision to rename the annual scholarship of the Virginia Library Association Paraprofessional Forum (VLAPF). The piece would easily answer all the standard journalistic questions we learned in school: who, when, where, what, and why. It turned out, instead, to be an endeavor of mind, heart, and soul.
After first exploring the idea of establishing an annual scholarship award for a well-deserving, library paraprofessional in his or her pursuit of an MLS degree in 1996, VLAPF awarded its first scholarship in May 2000. From the very beginning the VLA Scholarship Committee, with input from the VLAPF Executive Board, has sought out individuals who have exemplified the best of library paraprofessionalism through dedication, hard work, and strength of character in their personal, professional, and academic lives. Past recipients have each had challenging life-experiences, which they have overcome in order to achieve their goals.
Through its annual scholarship, VLAPF strives to promote and continue a legacy of excellence and character within the library field. The Forum's executive board has renamed its annual scholarship the Clara Stanley VLAPF Scholarship in honor of one of its long-standing board members and as a reflection of Ms. Stanley's perseverance, grace, and strength of character. For those aware of the personal obstacles Clara faced over the years, it is understandable that the decision to pay tribute to Clara in this manner was a unanimous one. Clara Stanley, an employee at the Virginia Tech libraries for 21 years, began her association with VLA through the Paraprofessional Forum, serving on its Board for over ten years and as its 2000 Co-Chair.
After consulting with and "getting the go-ahead" from Marianne Ramsden, Chair of the VLA Scholarship Committee, VLAPF proceeded with a plan to officially announce the new name of the scholarship. Jean Martin, VLAPF Co-Chair and colleague of Clara's at Virginia Tech, spearheaded the project.
Surrounded by family members and past and present colleagues from Virginia Tech, VLA, and VLAPF, Clara was honored with a special luncheon at the Texas Steakhouse & Saloon in Christiansburg on Wednesday, July 31, 2002. Cy Dillon shared his thoughts on the pertinence of renaming the scholarship. Cy stated, "Accomplished paraprofessional staff are the heart of any good library, and I am pleased to participate in naming the VLAPF Scholarship for one of our best examples of such a heart." Jean Martin gave a heartfelt tribute and then presented Clara with a plaque inscribed as you see at left.
The event ended with a multitude of photographs being taken Wanda Brown (right), a former Virginia Tech colleague, and Clara Stanley served as 2000 VLAPF Co-Chairs. and hugs being given and savored. Dispersed into the hot, humidityladen afternoon with full hearts and special memories, everyone reflected positively on the signifi- cance of the day.
Unfortunately, three weeks later on Wednesday, August 21, 2002, everyone grasped the true meaning of the day. Clara Stanley, age 57, died at her home, losing her long battle with cancer. Two sons, two daughters-in-law, one grandson, two brothers, two sisters, nieces and nephews, colleagues, and friends are just part of the legacy Clara leaves. Hers is one of excellence and strong character - traits that have also been sought in recipients, past, present, and future, of the Clara Stanley VLAPF Scholarship. Her legacy is the example she diligently, graciously, and quietly gave to all. A quote from Johann von Schiller seems to capture the sentiment of losing Clara as a loved one, friend, and colleague, and the essence of having known her: "He who has done his best for his own time has lived for all times." Clara Stanley did that…indeed!Mary Fran Nash is at Longwood University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.