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'The library was everything to her'

Community grieves loss of Colleen Stringer, 1947-2014

August 06, 2014 - Brandon Twp.- Colleen Susan Stringer was remembered this week as a wise, kind, and wonderful woman, devoted to her family and to the township library, its patrons and her fellow employees there.

Stringer, adult services librarian in the township for more than 13 years and interim library director since November, died suddenly July 31.

She was 67.

"The library was everything to her," said Ben Peterson, assistant librarian for adult services. "I always joked that if you opened the dictionary to librarian, her picture would be there. She was the perfect librarian."

Colleen was born in Woodstock, Ill. on Jan. 4, 1947, to Richard and Gloria Hennessy. She and her sisters Gloria (Charles) Zubek and Sharon (Douglas) Conquest enjoyed traveling back to the family farm in Illinois from their childhood home in Flint. While attending the University of Michigan, she traveled the world with her Aunt Mary Hennessy, amassing her worldly knowledge and famous spoon collection along the way. Following a brief stint as an English teacher, she pursued and earned her master's degree in library science from the University of Michigan and began working at the Flint Public Library.

On August 12, 1978 she married her soulmate, Kenneth J. Stringer of Beverly, Ohio. They adopted three of their six children from Seoul, South Korea and raised their large family at their country home in Hadley Hills. Following the death of her husband in 1998, she began work at the Brandon Township Public Library. Her work as a reference librarian was her passion; as she mentored her children into adulthood, she stressed the importance of choosing a profession that you love, just as she loved serving her library patrons.

Stringer founded the career services and business center at the library and assisted patrons with genealogy research and local history. As the adult services librarian, she ordered books for the adult collection and Peterson said many patrons depended on her knowledge of fiction, for the best books and mysteries.

Stringer reluctantly accepted the role of library director in late 2013 and focused on protecting the livelihoods of the library staff while maximizing the library's positive role in the community.

"She was looking forward to dropping the title of interim director and going back to what she loved, which was being a librarian," said Peterson. "She loved ordering books and helping patrons, that was her thing. She was hoping to do that in the next couple months. She was the glue for this library. She was the leader of the team, even when she wasn't the director, everyone looked to her."

An avid gardener, Stringer spent countless hours tending to her extensive gardens and Tonja Brice, youth services librarian assistant, said she will miss the conversations they shared about their gardens, as well as miss a great friend and co-worker.

"She was absolutely wonderful to work with— such a team player and somebody you could depend on and go to, and everyone likes that," Brice said. "She knew the specifics of everything, she was our editor and law person, the perfect reference librarian. She never got frustrated, was so knowledgeable and so well-rounded."

Stringer most looked forward to spending her days with family and friends. An annual family camping trip held a special place in her heart. She will be remembered for her unmatched grace and generosity, unfailing advice, zest for life, and her ability to make one's most trivial favor or accomplishment feel like an act of heroism. She truly cared for all.

"She was like my second mom," said Peterson. "She was just a sweetheart, there was not a person in the world that didn't like her...We've always persevered and now we have to learn to get through these times without her, which will be extremely difficult."

Stringer is survived by her six children, Andrea (Kevin) Grobe, Caroline Culbert, Melanie (Terry) Weathers, Daniel, Sean (Chelsea), and Ryan; six grandchildren, Jordan, Madeline, Garett, Ethan, Haley, and Hudson; sisters, Gloria and Sharon; sisters-in-law, Jo Ann (Thomas) Drake, Jeri Brown, and Judy (Thomas) Carlisle; numerous dear nieces, nephews, and cousins; her best friend Kathy Talley; and her two beloved collies, Sophie and Jack. She was preceded in death by her husband, Kenneth; her parents, and brothers-in-law, Charles and Douglas.

A Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated Aug. 7 at St. Anne Catholic Church, Ortonville. Fr. Gerry Frawley, Celebrant. Rite of Committal at Ortonville Cemetery. Donations may be made for a memorial in Colleen Stringer's honor at the Brandon Township Public Library, addressed to the Estate of Colleen Stringer, 7144 Park Ridge Parkway, Swartz Creek, MI 48473. To send a condolence, go to


Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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