WILMINGTON, MA — Article 45 on the warrant for the 2021 Annual Town Meeting asks voters to name the Wilmington Memorial Library’s new first-floor meeting room in memory of Barbara A. Johnson.
Johnson, who passed away at 96 in 2015, bequeathed $350,000 to the library.
Library Director Tina Stewart was first notified that the library was named in Johnson’s will in March 2015. Stewart wasn’t given an amount at that time.
“I figured it was going to be another $5,000 donation,” said Stewart, noting that Johnson previously donated $5,000 to the library in 2003 when her sister, Frankline Allen, a former Wilmington Library Trustee, passed away.
After not hearing anything for over a year, Stewart decided to follow up and call Johnson’s cousin, Carlyn Ellms, a Trustee to the Barbara A. Johnson Fund.
“She asked me if I was sitting down,” recounted Stewart. “And then, when she revealed the amount of $350,000, I asked her to repeat herself. I couldn’t believe it!”
Stewart doesn’t recall the library ever receiving a donation larger than $10,000 prior to Johnson’s remarkable gift.
The library has used a portion of the $350,000 to make some much needed improvements to its 52-year-old building without drawing upon tax payer dollars.
The library recently constructed a first-floor meeting room where the Library Director’s office was once located. The room will soon be available for booking, and will hold as many as six people. The Library Trustees is hoping the town will approve naming the room in Johnson’s honor.
Last year, the library used Johnson funds to remove one of its two front stairwells, creating a small room on the first floor and a small room on the second floor. The first floor space will be used for one-on-one Tech Help sessions. The second floor space will be used as a reading area for parents and children as well as for use by teens after school.
Johnson, who lived in California for most of her life, spent her childhood in Wilmington.
As her obituary noted, “[Barbara and her husband Bill] made Portola Valley their home in 1960, but her heart never completely left Wilmington.”
Residents will vote on naming the Meeting Room in honor of Johnson at the 2021 Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, May 1, 2021 at 9am at the Shriners Auditorium (99 Fordham Road).
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