Remembering Redden

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Lane Memorial Library Room Renamed for Former Director

By Aubry Bracco

Hampton Union, Tuesday, January 12, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Current Lane Memorial Library Director Amanda L. Reynolds Cooper sits next to a display of photos of her predecessor Catherine Redden, who died in 2008, during a rededication of a room at the Hampton library Saturday in honor of Redden.
[Aubry Bracco photo]

HAMPTON -- When library goers choose to settle into a seat to read, research or enjoy a moment to themselves in one room in the Lane Memorial Library, they will now be doing so in the memory of former Library Director Catherine L. Redden.

Relatives, friends, library staff and trustees gathered at the library on Saturday, Jan. 9, for an emotional rededication of the Dearborn Room, which is now the Dearborn Redden Room.

Redden died on Sept. 26, 2008, after a battle with cancer. Born on April 12, 1949, Redden was a native of the area.

After a childhood spent in Hampton Falls, she attended Winnacunnet High School, matriculated at Plymouth State College and earned a master's degree in library science at the University of Rhode Island. She also taught at Pinkerton Academy in Derry and worked as a public library administrator in Londonderry before returning to her childhood stomping grounds to assume the position of Lane Memorial Library's library director, the same library where her great-grandfather, Simeon Albert Shaw, served for more than 50 years.

During the Jan. 9 rededication, current Library Director Amanda L. Reynolds Cooper said she did not know Catherine Redden well, but is constantly reminded of the impact Redden had on Hampton through the townspeople she touched and the "tools she left behind to help me do my job."

Cooper said Lane Memorial will "capture" Redden's legacy as the library moves forward into the future and celebrates its 100th birthday this year. Cooper noted the poignant linkage in the name of the room between the past — Dearborn commemorates Joseph F. Dearborn, one of the library's first donors — and Redden, a library director from "current times."

In lieu of flowers, Cooper said Redden had requested people make donations to the Lane Memorial Library in her memory.

"Consider this: Would you allow your employer to be included in your legacy?" Cooper asked the group that crowded into the rededicated room on Saturday.

The Dearborn Redden room, which currently houses the library's large-print collection, per Redden's vision for the space, was a favorite corner of the library for the former library director. She had dedicated winged chairs and plantings just outside the window in honor of her own mother during her tenure.

"I would like to think Catherine had a plan for this room," Cooper said.

Following a prayer by Rev. Deborah Knowlton, attendees took time to enjoy the room, view photos of Redden and exchange memories of the library director.

"She was definitely known for her grace," said Janet Perkins, who works at the library. "If there was one word that personified Catherine, it was grace, and she was gracious."

Hampton's Recreation and Parks Director Dyana Martin said she and Redden bonded as two female department heads.

"She was nice to everyone," Martin said of Redden. "'Kind' is a good word to describe her; grace is another."

"She really did put up a good fight. She fought a good fight," said Hampton resident Liz Premo, who served with Redden on the Hampton Historical Society's board. "I enjoyed her sense of humor. She was a really nice lady to work with."

Assistant Library Director Bill Teschek, who adopted Redden's cats, Gracie and Ali, following Redden's death, praised Redden for her vision for the Dearborn Redden Room.

"We could never find a good fit for that room," Teschek said. "It was her idea (to use it for the large-print) collection."

As for Redden's cats, Teschek said they are the "perfect fit" in his household.

Hampton Falls Library Director Judy Haskell knew Redden both professionally, through involvement in the New Hampshire Library Association and the Rotary Club, and as a good friend.

According to Haskell, Redden was a "great leader (who was) very much respected by the people who worked for her." In addition, she was "always quick to spot a bad idea ...; . She wouldn't hesitate to say something," Haskell said. "She was not at all indecisive."

In recognition of her qualities, Redden received the Ann Geisel Award of Merit from her peers in 2005. She was honored with a Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Hampton Rotary Club during her lifetime as well.

Though she remembers those qualities that characterize Redden's unique leadership abilities, Haskell also recalls more personal memories — such as a fondness for morning sunlight and dedication to family — that define a woman loved by family and friends.

Haskell said she will always remember Redden's "little gifts" and consistent preparedness, including her collection of bottled water, to ensure everyone remained well-hydrated, and "little first-aid kits," just in case of an emergency.

"She was always the first to help in any situation," Haskell said. "Catherine would always help so gladly.

"She wouldn't make you feel as if you were imposing," Haskell continued. "She was a great friend."

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