Remembering Rose ...

  • Written by Lisa Allen
From the inside of the Duvall Library, the stained-glass rose window on the front door frames the Duvall Coffeehouse. The artwork was placed there in memory of longtime Duvall librarian Rose Norenberg. Lisa Allen/Staff Photo
DUVALL–Long before video recorders, Story Times and the Internet, there was Rose Norenberg.

The longtime Duvall librarian was the "go-to" person for information on books or just about anything you could ask for in those pre-computer days. If she didn’t know the answer, she knew where to look for it.

Library patrons could always count on Rose to offer them a cheery welcome as they came in the door. On a first-name basis with the small town regulars, she was always ready with advice on good books for both adults and their children.

Local historian Tove Burhen says Rose is remembered as a ‘‘favorite librarian ... in those days the library doubled as a meeting place and the coffee was always on."

Rose also wanted to do something extra, just for children. So about once a week, she and her dear friend Verle Bowe would put on a free movie for the local kids who were happy to have an afternoon diversion.

The library was tiny then, and bursting at the seams. Except for one addition, it had been in the same building since 1935. But Rose somehow made room for everything, a testament to her love of literature developed during her childhood, which, according to her son, Tom, could have read like a depression-era novel.

Rose Jean Nelson was born in rural Wichita, Kansas in 1912. Her family (parents and five siblings) lost their farm in the Dust Bowl calamity and moved to Union Hill near Redmond in 1919. After losing both parents the children were separated and placed in foster care. It was during that time that Rose developed her great love for books and reading.

The future librarian met and married Howard Norenberg in 1934 and in 1945 they moved to the Cherry Gardens area near Duvall.

According to Tom, she became assistant librarian in the late 1940s under Mrs. Bradenberg. She became head librarian in 1957 when Mrs. Bradenberg retired.

Rose remained librarian until 1977 when she retired. She passed away in October of 1984.

In April of 1993 following the completion of an addition and remodeling of the library, the Civic Club dedicated the rose stained-glass window in the front door in her memory and also the Rose Room downstairs, where there is a photo of her and a plaque.

The Rose Room was used for City Council and other meetings for years, but now that a new library is being built, it is doubtful the Rose Room will survive. The building, owned by the city, will probably be up for rent, says Duvall Mayor Will Ibershof.

But hopes remain that the rose stained-glass window will find a permanent home in the new library.

"We would like to see it preserved," Library Board Chair Paige Denison said, adding there has been some discussion about it (at board meetings) but no decision has been made.

"I would like to see something done with the stained glass," said Tom. "My personal choice would be to see it framed and mounted on a wall with a plaque reminding people of what it represents. I think my mother would be pleased that the city is having a new, modern library."

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