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The East Penn community paid tribute to a very special woman last Saturday who, at age 63, lost her fight against brain cancer. Her name was Martha Vines, and if the name doesn’t ring a bell, her affiliation for nearly 30 years as the children’s librarian at the Emmaus Public Library surely will. Martha was the woman with the short and shocking red hair who would greet you and willingly search the card catalogue or computer for the book you were looking for, sometimes even offering you the book she thought you should be reading. She gave her utmost attention to my daughter, Lauren, and her school mates during summer reading programs in those elementary school years, and to my granddaughter, Addison, 3, and her peers during weekly story hours. It was like Martha to begin reading a story and showing the pages and then flying off on a tangent about something else. I would marvel at how she somehow brought it all together. She adored young people and the creativity they brought at her feet. They were her captive audience for the written word, and she would never abuse having such a special role in their formative years.

Martha was a friend to the arts of East Penn and the Lehigh Valley. Her volunteerism extended to the Emmaus Historical Society, Emmaus Farmers Market, Civic Theatre of Allentown, and State Theatre of Easton, where she was active for many years behind-the-scenes at the annual Freddy Awards. She adored events that showcased the talents of students of all ages. It was always after the Freddy Awards that she would grab your ear throughout the summer at the Emmaus Farmers Market about the roles the students portrayed in their school musical productions.

“Martha volunteered for the Freddy program from its inception,” said Shelley Brown, who started the program back in 2003. “Her favorite thing was to be around young people. She was one of our most enthusiastic volunteer seat-fillers on show night. I think she probably knew every single student from Emmaus, since her “day-job” was children’s librarian at the Emmaus Public Library. She would always refer to those kids as her ‘babies’…but, be assured, she loved them all!”

Widowed since 1987, Martha lived not only for her two sons, George and John, but for all the children of our community. It is with fitting tribute that her family has requested that contributions be made to the Emmaus Public Library in support of the new children’s wing.

One of her closest friends, Donna Brown, summed up Martha on Facebook as “the self-declared unofficial Emmaus ambassador extraordinaire.” Martha had the greatest role of all.