Written by Larry Limpf
February 20, 2009
It may be just a room in the Harris-Elmore Public Library but its impact extends well beyond Ottawa County.
For nearly 40 years Grace Luebke collected materials for the library’s local history room, which is named after the woman who considered it a labor of love to compile the myriad documents that told the stories of so many in the community.
“We remember with gratitude Grace Luebke February 10, 1920 – February 14, 2009” a line on the library’s Web site says.
“Her painstaking research made the Grace Luebke Local History Room probably one of the best in Northwest Ohio,” Georgiana Huizenga, library director, said last week. “People came from all over the United States to take advantage of the work she had done. This is what most people will remember about her.”
After receiving a grant from the Ottawa County Community Foundation and using some donations, the library has begun putting materials in the room into digital format, which will make them available on the library’s Web site.
The library has partnered with the Ohio Historical Society and Ohio Memory Project to begin the digital collection.
“I was so pleased that she got to see some of the fruits of her painstaking research online before she died,” Mrs. Huizenga said. “This digitization project will make her work available globally.”
Mrs. Luebke’s skills as a researcher were matched by her skills in the kitchen. She won prizes for her pies and her peanut butter pie was always a popular dish at the library’s Christmas parties.
Her wit, which leaned toward the dry side, will also be remembered.
“I would go back into the history room to talk with her and she would ask me, with a twinkle in her eye,`What’s on your so-called mind?’ “Mrs. Huizenga said, adding Mrs. Luebke was also a fan of Tiger Woods.
Rick Claar, owner operator of the Elmore 5 and 10 on Rice Street, said many out-of-state visitors came to the store after conducting genealogical research at the library.
“I don’t think many people in Elmore will ever realize what a treasure we’ve lost,” he said of Mrs. Luebke.
A former director of the library, Mrs. Luebke retired in 1993 but last year was still coming into the library a few days a week
When reporters at The Press would need historical background information for stories Mrs. Luebke’s name often came up in conversation for source material. She located an obituary from 1973 for an item that appeared in The Press last year about a sculpture called Wind Song that sits in the walk-through area of downtown Genoa.
The library delayed opening Wednesday until 1 p.m. so the staff could attend her funeral.