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Friends of the Library honors the late Robley Greilick

April 19, 2017
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Wednesday evening, about two dozen island residents arrived at the meeting room of the Pine Island Public Library for a reception to honor the late Robley Greilick. A framed copy of Robley's poem, "My Heart is that of a Tree" was hung in her honor on the meeting room wall.

"Robley and Donald Greilick live nearby and were frequent library users," Friends of the Pine Island Library President Ellen Ballard said. "They would often walk over to the library to visit and their frequent visits resulted in friendships with our librarian Randy Briggs as well as Tonya Player and many others here at the library.

"When Robley Greilick passed away, Mr. Greilick reached out to us at the library about making a sizable donation to the library," Ballard said. "He donated a very sizable sum to the Friends of the Library and also made another donation to the Pine Island Elementary school library. At the time of the donations, Mr. Greilick asked that his wife's poem, 'My Heart is that of a Tree,' be read and it was."

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Player worked at the Pine Island Library branch for about 10 years before transferring to Cape Coral.

"I felt very honored to have Robley and Donald's friendship," Player said. "I first heard about this poem when they cut down the java plums outside the library I remember Robley was furious. That's when she brought the poem in for Randy Briggs to read."

Robley's uncle was well known Fort Myers physician Dr. Robley D. Newton. Newton was Thomas Edison's personal physician. Through her uncle and cousin, James Newton, Robley came to know the Edisons, as well as many of their personal friends, including Charles Lindberg and Ann Morrow Lindberg.

Robley was inspired to learn to fly airplanes in her 30s by Anne Morrow Lindberg. After becoming a flight instructor, one of her students was Gail Henning, who was Robley's caretaker until her death. She explained the origin of the poem.

"When the Robley's were living in Buckingham, they had on their property a huge, very old oak tree," Henning said. "One night there was a terrible storm and the wind was blowing very hard and Robley was very worried that the tree would be destroyed. All night long she sat on that lanai and in the morning the tree was still standing. So the inspiration for the poem was created by that storm."

"Robley cared about the trees and she cared about people she would meet," Player said. "She would come to story-time and just laugh and have a good time with the kids. Donald wanted you to know that Robley lived a life of giving and service. She was the most giving person I've ever met."

Player read "My Heart is that of a Tree" before the framed work was hung on the wall.

"One of the best things about working at the library is the gifts you receive and more than anything else those gifts are the people that you meet," she said. Robley and Donald Greilick are two treasures."



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