STEUBENVILLE – The Steubenville and Jefferson County Public Library occasionally receives donations of books and items, but a recent one of quantity and quality made on behalf of the GFWC / OFWC Wintersville Woman’s Club is far from a fiction, not to mention a Christmas gift of sorts with year round appeals for appreciation.
The gift took a lot of travel and some physical commitment to bring from point A to point B the collection of 675 books belonging to former Wintersville resident Bonnie Harvey DiDomenico.
The 640 hardback books and 35 paperback books finally found a new place in the local library system.
And they came with a bonus, this one for listening pleasure, not reading. The library became the new owner of a collection of jazz CDs totaling 545 items, those previously owned by DiDomenico’s mother, the late Dorothy Jean Harvey.
Details of how this happened were shared by Suzy Crawford, a friend and club member of the former area resident who moved to Virginia to be with her family. Crawford had helped clean DiDomenico’s house.
“Bonnie and I discussed the books in May when I started cleaning the house, and she and I thought it would be a good women’s club project, so she donated them to the club to donate to the library.” “ explained Crawford, who had a “Wow” reaction from Mike Gray, director of the library, when they saw the extent of the collection.
Although Crawford was surprised at the number of books that had piled up, it was no secret that DiDomenico enjoyed reading.
“Bonnie was an avid reader and always had a book with her wherever she went” Crawford said. “His motto was ‘You never know when you have free time when you’re out, so take a book with you.'”
That’s what she did, according to Crawford, who said DiDomenico would average two to three pounds per week.
“If Bonnie was going to Wendy’s, she would grab her tray, sit down, open the book, then take a bite to eat. Any local restaurant where she would eat would know her because she was there with her book. She was never without a bag with a book in it ”, Crawford said, describing the collection as “An important and generous donation”.
A graduate of Wintersville High School in 1969, DiDomenico lived in the countryside on Powells Lane in Wintersville with his parents, the late Emmett Lee and Dorothy Jean Harvey, as well as his older sister Barbara and his brother Bob. “She has spent a lot of hours riding her horse Smokey. Barbara called her Annie Oakley ”, Crawford said, adding that DiDomenico, like his father, was “A shot with a gun”.
In his youth, DiDomenico lived in New Jersey and worked as a flight attendant for TWA in New York. Upon her return to Wintersville, she worked for Dr. Ronald Agresta and later became a public relations representative for an industrial safety equipment company. In this capacity, she has traveled extensively in the United States and abroad. When she retired from Uvex, DiDomenico had received numerous awards for her leadership accomplishments, which did not surprise her brother.
“When Bonnie had a job, she gave 110% in everything she did” he said.
DiDomenico’s return to the area brought the discovery that his circle of friends had left the area, according to Crawford, who had graduated from Wintersville High School in 1963 with DiDomenico’s sister. A group from the class of 1963 had formed the YaYa Sisterhood, which has met monthly for almost 35 years.
“We adopted her even though she was the little sister” Crawford said when explaining how she came to know DiDomenico better.
“She was the life of the party, and she and Barbara could have done stand-up. They kept everyone in stitches ”, Crawford said, adding that the group appreciated him “invaluable” knowledge book that kept the group informed on all kinds of problem solving. “If you mentioned that you had a problem with an insect or a plant, Bonnie had read about it”, Crawford said. “She always gave us these little tips. You brought up a subject, and Bonnie knew about it.
DiDomenico was active in the Wintersville Woman’s Club of which his sister, the late Barbara Thermes, had been president. DiDomenico has served on various club committees and most recently was correspondent secretary before moving due to health concerns. She lives in Suffolk, Virginia, now with her daughter and son-in-law, Aymee and Ryan Siléritéorn, and grandsons Asher and Benny.
“She started coming to YaYa, then she joined the women’s club, and we quickly became friends,” she said. Crawford explained how the friendship blossomed. “When she needed the house to be taken care of, I went out and my son helped me” Crawford said, stressing that DiDomenico wanted things that could be donated to be put to good use.
“It was his mother’s jazz,” Crawford said. “Her mother would sit in a rocking chair at night, listening to jazz.”
DiDomenico was an active member of the First Westminster Presbyterian Church in Steubenville, where she served as a church elder, a church session member, a member of the worship and music committee, and the congregation care committee. , serving dinners to grieving families. She also participated in the Presbyterian Women’s Bible Study and Mission Group.
She was also an avid ornithologist and gardener, proud of her weed-free garden, according to Crawford.
“She would deliver produce to the pens and on Sunday mornings would open her trunk at church and ask the members to help themselves. She was also known to deliver meals to recluses, and when her sister Barb and her brother-in-law Gil Thermes were very ill before they died, meals were eaten regularly ”, she said.
“Mike was delighted with the quality of the books and overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of books when he had to make four trips to get them all here.” Crawford said.
“I freaked out the first time I saw them” she added.
The club’s donation of the Gifted Book and Jazz CD collection falls under the Community Service Education and Library Program committees chaired by Mary Ann Parker. “It will bring a lot of smiles to jazz lovers and readers” Parker said.
Gray explained the protocol of what happens when donations are made to the library.
“We usually do some sort of ‘triage’ of donations, often in the garage of the main library. “ he said. “The categories are: books to add to the collection, books to keep for the Friends of the library book sale, books for the Free-to-good-home shelf, and recycling materials.” Materials to be added are set aside and processed (plastic sheet cover, barcode, label on the back) when time is available, usually by volunteer Alan Hall ”, he said of the now retired library manager. “Many older books are replacing beloved copies on our shelves. “
The vast majority of DiDomenico’s books are mysteries and thrillers, many titles by James Patterson and Michael Connally, but there are also history and gardening books in the mix.
“Jazz CDs focused on singers, jazz piano, and little combos, old and new. “ Gray commented. “I asked Erika Grubbs, our local history librarian, to select which ones to add to our collection. She is very passionate about jazz.
DiDomenico’s donation ranks in the top five for the amount given to the library over the years, according to Gray.
“These types of donations are becoming more and more frequent as we move forward in the COVID-19 period”, he said. “A lot of people spent their time in confinement cleaning their homes and pulled out books. Here at the library, we are happy to receive donations of this type, and we are working hard to use as many donations as possible. “
With this school of thought in session, Gray offers a suggestion.
“If there’s one thing I’d like to impress about readers who buy books, don’t let the book sit on your shelf if you’re done reading it. “ he said. “As Marie Kondo says, if it doesn’t bring you joy, donate it” he said, referring to the renowned author and storage expert who starred in a Netflix show called “Cleaning up with Marie Kondo. “
“We have a great patron at our Dillonvale branch library, and he buys a new book, reads it, and donates it. “ Gray said. “Sometimes his book is processed and put on the shelves before the copy we buy is released. Share your literary riches with everyone while the book is fresh – you will feel better ”, Gray added.