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Greencastle library, Lions Club honor faithful patron

September 20, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Those who knew Joe Bowser speak often of his love of reading.

"Joe was happiest with a book in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other," recalled his sister-in-law, Judy Glass, of Greencastle.

It seemed only appropriate to family and friends present on Tuesday at the dedication of the Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library's new reading lounge that Bowser be remembered for his love of reading. Donated by the Greencastle Lions Club, the library dedicated the lounge in memory of Bowser and his family.

Bowser, his wife, Joan, and their grandson, Elijah Virago, 6, of Catonsville, Md., died last December when the Bowsers' Greencastle home caught fire.

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Following the deaths of the Bowsers and their grandson, the Greencastle Lions Club sought to present the community with a memorial to Bowser, who was club president at the time of his death.

"We thought, 'What can we do to remember Joe and his family?'" recalled Ron Snyder, a member of the Greencastle Lions Club. "What stood out to us was how much Joe loved to come to the library."

The club raised $3,000 through Christmas tree sales, sandwich sales and a pancake breakfast to purchase the reading lounge, Snyder said.

Sharon Zaretskie, children's librarian at the Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library, said the Bowsers were some of the library's most loyal patrons.

"They were here at least two or three times a week," she said. "Joe would even help us around here."

Jodie Virago, Melissa Virago and Judy Glass attended the dedication on behalf of the Bowser family.

Jodie Virago, Elijah's mother, had not seen the lounge prior to its dedication and said they were touched and pleased. Jodie Virago, the Bowsers' daughter, said she believed her parents were smiling on the occasion, saying it was evident that the library designed the lounge with her parents in mind.

"My father would be very pleased with this," she said. "Though he probably would have suggested they add foot stools."

Jodie Virago, who has her father's library card number tattooed on her wrist, remembers fondly the part reading played in her father's life and the life of her son.

"My father loved to read everything from historical fiction to manuals," she said. "When Elijah would stay with them, they would bring him to the library."

In addition to their patronage of the library, Snyder said that Bowser and his wife were also known for their love of Greencastle. According to Jodie Virago, her mother could be seen at almost every Greencastle sporting event while her father made an annual appearance as Santa Claus for the Christmas parade.

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