By A.M. WERTZ
Elizabeth Maule is not your typical librarian.
A.M. WERTZ/Sun-Gazette Correspondent
Above, Lewisburg author Beth Fantaskey signs a copy of her new book, “Buzz Kill,” at a First Friday book signing event at Otto Bookstore June 6. Fantaskey dedicated her book to her middle school librarian, Elizabeth Maule, shown at left. Maule and Fantaskey were reunited at the book signing at Otto’s, where they were able to spend some time together catching up.
She's not your average 92-year-old woman, either.
Born Aug. 5, 1921, Maule can get a room laughing with her jokes, takes the time to perfectly match her outfits and makes sure she spends some time chatting with people each day. And although she has trouble getting up from her chair, she is not slowing down any time soon.
In fact, when it comes to staying busy, Maule said she is usually the last one to return to Elmcroft of Loyalsock, where she has resided for almost a year.
In addition to playing bingo, Maule is one of the oldest members of the Williamsport Lycoming County Council of Republican Women, of which she is a past president, and is a member of the Montoursville Garden Club and the retired teacher's groups of Montoursville's Lyter Elementary School and C.E. McCall Middle School.
"Yes," Maule said. "I keep busy. When I first moved here, I wanted to go out and about around 8 o'clock to see what happens here at that hour and everyone was already in bed!"
Maule moved into Elmcroft after her husband, William, first lived there. Married in 1943, Maule is proud of the 70-year marriage she shared with William, who passed away five months ago. Their 71st anniversary would have been celebrated June 27. Maule shared her secret to a lasting marriage.
"Don't go to bed mad," Maule said. "And give and take. When I lost him, I sold the house because it was no fun living alone anymore. I'm thankful for the 70 years. We were very lucky in that way. I have a wonderful family."
Maule and her husband raised two sons and a daughter. There are five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and a few stepgrandchildren, as well.
When she isn't out on the town, Maule can be found in the library she helped restore at Elmcroft.
"I cleared out the old stuff and added a lot of stuff," she said. "I was a volunteer at (WB) Konkle (Memorial Library) and the Brown Library book sale and Konkle sent me large-print books. The lady here said, 'you can be in charge of it.' "
Her love of books began at a very young age, a hobby she pursued at the college level when her own children also were taking college courses.
"From the time I was a little kid, I loved to read," Maule said. "I used to help in the library when I was in high school."
Maule graduated from South Williamsport High School in 1939. She taught fourth grade in that district for two-and-a-half years before becoming pregnant.
"Back then, if you got pregnant, you had to quit," she said.
After living in South Williamsport with her husband, they moved on to Williamsport and Wallace Run, before settling in Montoursville. She studied education at the former Dickinson Junior College, now Lycoming College; and Lock Haven University; and took library classes at the University of Utah and Penn State.
Maule spent 18 years working in libraries. She was the coordinator of elementary libraries for Montoursville Area School District and was on the first staff at McCall when it first opened.
Lewisburg author Beth Fantaskey remembers well the time she spent with her former librarian.
"When I was a fifth grader at McCall, Mrs. Maule was nice enough to let me use the library as a refuge while I adjusted," Fantaskey said. "I was a super shy, geeky bookworm, and the new school seemed overwhelming. She'd let me hang out and gave me little tasks to do, so I felt like I had a purpose. In retrospect, I probably made more work for her, but she never made me feel that way."
Maule said she had always liked Fantaskey.
"She and her friend would spend their free time in the library with me," she said. "They would come and help me. She was a sweet kid."
Fantaskey recently dedicated her fourth book, "Buzz Kill," to Maule, along with her parents.
The murder mystery is about a girl who stumbles upon the body of her school's despised head football coach.
"I like to dedicate my books to my parents because they never discouraged me from following long-shot dreams, like being a novelist," Fantaskey said. "They always encourage my unique point of view. And I dedicated it to Mrs. Maule because Millie's mentor in 'Buzz Kill' is a super cool librarian who helps Millie through a rough time. Millie calls Ms. Parkins 'her' librarian, and I think of Mrs. Maule that way. There's a line in the book when Millie says, 'Everybody needs a librarian!' And I think that's true!"
Maule was honored when Fantaskey reached out with the news of the dedication.
"I'm very proud of her, very proud," Maule said. "It's a very good book."
Daughter-in-law Donna Maule called herself a "children's lit nut."
"Every time I read books at my grandson's school, I never skip that dedication because it means something to the author," Donna said. "It is such an honor to have a book dedicated to her. It's incredible."
Of Maule, Donna could only find kind words to share.
"She is such a joy to her friends, her family, her church," she said. "She has a sense of humor that is like no other. She is an incredible teacher and librarian. She has made a huge impression on me over the 22 years that I have known her. She is smart in an intelligent way and sensitive to the needs of others, whether it's strangers or friends."