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Library volunteers plan tribute to Delmont woman struck outside Walmart

August 6, 2018
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Above, Gail Rohrbacher, second from the left, poses for a photo with fellow Delmont Public Library volunteers. Rohrbacher died after being struck by a pickup truck on July 27, 2018.

Gail Rohrbacher of Delmont dedicated her life to education -- of others through teaching and her own through reading.

“She was the library,” said Marilyn Henderson, children’s program director at Delmont Public Library. “She instigated so much here.”

Rohrbacher, 82, died July 27 after being struck by a pickup truck outside the Walmart in Delmont. Friends said the impact she had on countless library patrons’ lives will continue, and they plan a tribute to honor her memory.

Rohrbacher was born in 1936 in Greensburg. She graduated from Indiana State University and spent four decades teaching elementary students in Monroeville’s Gateway School District.

“She was one of those teachers who got all the bad kids because they knew she could handle it,” Henderson said.

Henderson met Rohrbacher after moving back to the area following an early retirement from her own career as an elementary educator.

“I didn’t know many people, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be around children anymore,” she said. “Well, I met Gail and boom -- I was doing all kinds of things at the library.”

Helen Colclaser of Murrysville also met Rohrbacher through the library, where both women were members of the Friends of the Delmont Library group.

“She was a reader all her life,” Colclaser said.

Rohrbacher, one of the library’s original board members, also was among the most-prolific members of the “Library Angels,” patrons who purchase books they read and then donate to the library’s collection.

“She was one of the best we had,” Henderson said. “She’d find a great book, buy it, read it and then donate it.”

Librarian Denni Grassel said she could always go to Rohrbacher for advice on library issues as well as life issues.

“She was my ‘second mom’ as such,” Grassel said. “She supported any project I proposed to her if it involved giving children the opportunity to learn.”

Rohrbacher was instrumental in starting library groups like the Young Writers and Summer Readers programs. She also regularly participated in the library’s teas, helping plan them months in advance and even organizing one around her love of dolls.

“Gail had each girl bring their favorite doll, talk about its name and how she plays with it,” Henderson said. “All those little girls dressed up so nicely, and they all had a great time.”

To honor Rohrbacher’s legacy, library officials will organize a memorial “Hello Dolly” tea in the fall.

Charlene Davis of Delmont, who belonged to Rohrbacher’s bridge club, said the tea is a small way to pay tribute to all the good Rohrbacher brought to the library and its patrons.

“She was a very giving person,” she said.

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