A beloved Fayette County leader and friend passed away Monday, May 18 and the community continues to honor and remember her.
Poppy Girton was born April 18, 1951, in Columbus to B. Dustin and Martha Edna Poppe Girton. She was a 1969 graduate of Washington Senior High School and graduated summa cum laude in 1973 from the Ohio State University with a bachelor of arts degree with a dual major in anthropology and psychology where she was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She also earned a master of library science and information science degree from Kent State University in 2002.
“I started here at the library as a volunteer and Poppy trained me,” Anne Quinn, head of children services for Carnegie Public Library in Washington C.H., said. “I had my degree in library science, but I had never worked in a library before. So Poppy trained me on my very first day and I have known her 12 years. So not only was she my mentor, and of course my boss, she was also a very good friend of mine. She was one of those people who was truly passionate about the library as an institution and what we provide to the community. She was tireless in her efforts to make us the best library that we can be and she worked so hard to bring out the best in all of us.”
Girton became a member of the Carnegie Public Library Board of Trustees and served from from 1988-1997 where she served several terms as president. In 1997, she joined as a public services assistant at the library and later became the head of adult services before becoming library director in 2009. She was appointed by the Fayette County Commissioners to serve on the Fayette County Law Library Resource Board. In all Girton served the library for 27 years.
“Poppy was fiercely intelligent, just very sharp, as well as being a very caring and warm person,” Sarah Nichols, head of adult services at Carnegie Public Library, said. “She really had a unique way with the staff and she cared about each one of us and listened to each one of us as individuals. There was a lot of her soft side that she put into this work. She was a pleasure to work for and with. I think most people who knew her would speak to her eloquence and grace. She was such a great person and a great mentor to me.”
Girton shared a passion for a number of hobbies and interests and would carry them out to the maximum extent. Whether it was donating money to the local humane society, caring for Fayette County’s stray animals, creating beautiful works of art from yarn as she knitted items for those she cared for, serving as a librarian for a number of purposes and reasons, including for Hospice of Fayette County, and of course her love to read, she would do the task to her best potential.
“She was quite an accomplished cook and would share pieces of herself, talk about her garden and herbs, through her cooking,” Nichols said. “And of course along the side of all of that, she had her love of reading. My favorite thing she always said about reading was, ‘Reading was its own reward.’ We want to sufficiently honor Poppy and her service. For the library she gave such great thought and consideration to every decision that she made. I said it when I said she was fully invested. She truly lived and breathed the library.”
The library is planning on honoring the life of Girton in some way in the future, but as the family, both at home and at the library, take time to mourn they are all left with the pleasant memories of a woman who cared for them in a special way.
“She knew everyone has different gifts and talents and figured out what we were all good at, and pulled it out of us by letting us do what we needed to and nurtured us as we did those things,” Quinn said. “We all loved her here, she was a beloved leader. She was not like some bosses who are in the mindset of ‘it’s my way or the highway.’ She listened to and respected everyone’s thoughts. We will miss her so very much.”
Girton was laid to rest on Friday. Her funeral was held at First Baptist Church and her burial was at the Milledgeville-Plymouth Cemetery.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy