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Living the library life

Retiree in Maybell stays busy with literature

Dan Olsen

— Summers after retirement are supposed to be a peaceful, relaxing time of year, especially in Maybell, where life moves at a leisurely pace.

But, for library assistant Marla Stephenson, the biggest turnout of the year at the Maybell Branch of the Moffat County Libraries occurs during summer months.

“Summer is huge here,” she said. “We have the kids competing in the reading program, playing games and listening to stories on headphones. They also put on plays that they make up themselves.”

Even with all the activity in the library, Stephenson still is happy to be spending her retirement in Maybell after working 19 years for an insurance company in Denver.

Growing up in south Routt County and graduating from Soroco High School in 1977, Stephenson was a supervisor of five departments before downsizing offered her a chance to return to Northwest Colorado.

“I went to Denver to make the big money,” she said. “I retired in 1999 and got out of the corporate world.”

Thoughts of her parents, Clara and Harold Williamson’s ranch near Oak Creek, made her long for the small town life.

Something she soon found in Maybell.

“I was in 4-H growing up,” she said. “My sister and I made paper-mache waste baskets and took first at state with them.”

Enjoying her retirement with her husband Rick, daughter Amanda and son Justin, Marla finally gave in to friend Sherrie Johnson’s request for help at the Maybell Mercantile Restaurant and went back to work.

When the restaurant sold in 2002, Stephenson went to work for the library, and has never regretted the move.

“It’s very peaceful,” she said. “On a big night in Maybell, I read. I read quite a bit.”

Stephenson said she reads “everything,” especially nonfiction and romance. Her favorite authors include Jody Thomas and Joan Johnston, writer of historical romances.

The Maybell library gets fairly busy in the summer, with an average of 22 patrons per day, Stephenson said. But it’s still a small town, and people pitch in wherever they are needed.

A while back when a trucker wrecked on Colorado Highway 318, Stephenson was pressed into service driving the ambulance responding to the call.

“Luckily, no one was in the library that day, so I locked the door and went,” she said. “It was cool going 75 miles an hour and knowing I wouldn’t get stopped.”

The best part of her job at the library, she said, is getting to order books for the patrons, and the people she gets to meet.

“In the summer, we get a lot of bicyclists and hitchhikers,” she said. “I meet a lot of interesting people.”

A few years ago, a lady riding her horse from Montana to New Mexico stopped at the library and was befriended by Stephenson. Interesting stories about the trip filled the Stephenson home that evening as the traveler spent her first night in a house in quite some time.

Energy workers sometimes visit the library to catch up on e-mails and surf the Web, and most people are very friendly, Stephenson said.

“Hunters come in and check out videos,” she said. “They are very honest people. One kid took a book back to New Mexico on accident, and mailed it back to the library.”

Retired life may eventually slow down for Stephenson.

Her daughter has joined the National Guard and currently is in boot camp.

Stephenson’s 12-year-old son Justin still is very active and acts “like the town greeter in Maybell,” she said, playing in the park and in everyone’s back yard.

That’s part of Maybell’s attraction for Stephenson.

“I’m related to many of the kids that come in the library,” she said. “I love the job and everything about it.”

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext.207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com


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