Suzy Lemoine, Evangeline Parish Library outreach director (left); Pam Guillory (center); and Yvonne Lavergne, library director (right) honor Guillory’s retirement as Pine Prairie branch manager after 30 years of service during a celebration held Wednesday, September 9. (Gazette photo by Nancy Duplechain)
Starting a new chapter
After 30 years of faithful service, Pine Prairie Branch Manager Pamela Faye Ardoin Guillory has retired. A retirement party was held Wednesday, September 9th at the library where her coworkers, friends, and family bid her a fond farewell.
Food, gifts, warm smiles, and well-wishes greeted Pam, who was overcome with bittersweet emotion throughout the party. On a table holding gifts was a plaque that read: “30 years of service. Endless hours of cataloging, countless books shelved, lots of reader inquiries answered, numerous hours of research, everlasting friendships, so many readers’ lives changed. A reader. A mentor. A friend. Enjoy the next chapter! Retired 2020.”
When asked what she would miss most about the library, through tears Pam said, “The people. I’m going to miss everybody. I’m a people person, so I love all my people.” Her coworkers and regular library visitors have become a family to her. She has lived in Pine Prairie all of her life, with her home only a few blocks from the library. She started working with books in the 1980s with the book-mobile. In 1990 the library was only one room, a Catechism room at St. Peter’s Catholic Church. When a lot became available, Father Leslie T.H. Prescott bought the land and donated it to the library which was named for him. Pam knew Father Prescott well, having worked at the church for her first job in high school. She used to type up the church bulletins and set up the church for weddings and masses. When the library opened in 1990, she became the first branch manager.
Pam said the library has changed a lot since 1990. “When we first opened, we didn’t have a computer. Bill Gates and his organization donated a computer. Now we have a lot of computers.”
Pam is married to Sheriff Charles Guillory. They have four children and 12 grandchildren. She said not everyone in her family loves to read, but some do. “I collect a lot of books for the grandkids. I keep them in a basket, and the basket is overflowing.” She said her older grandson would rather have a book than be paid for yard work.
The library has a shelf which holds items from readers who have passed away. Jesse’s hat, Charlie’s saw and soccer ball, Gerald who made the box for the saw, a Boggy Bayou poster donated by Betty and the late Mac ... Pam’s face lights up as she talks of her customers, her friends. “I miss them,” she said quietly, tears pricking her eyes again.
Pam points over her shoulder to a man sitting at a computer. “That’s like my family, too. Billy Bob. His kids grew up here.”
“She watched my kids grow up,” said Billy Gordon. “She knew us from day one, I think.”
“I have a little girl who just came by, and she brought her baby,” said Pam of a customer she had known as a child.
In 2012, Pam received bad news when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She was out of work for six weeks to have a colon resectioning. When she came back to work, Billy Bob, as she affectionately calls him, was there, one of the first people she saw. Holding back tears, Pam said he told her, “‘We’re going to pray together.’ It just touched my heart.” She said she was lucky the cancer did not spread, and she is doing well.
Angie Henry is the new library branch manager. Henry has some big shoes to fill, but Pam is confident she has what it takes. Even though Pam no longer works at the library, she still plans to visit often to find a good book, and of course, good friends.