Heart of Detroit: Mary Grimes

96-year-old woman still volunteers at school library

Published On: Apr 19 2012 05:37:32 PM EDT
DETROIT -

Do you remember your school librarian? Mary Grimes has the job at Amelia Earhart Middle School. 

She started in 1967. 

"I liked Amelia Earhart." 

So much so that when she got a pink slip after 40 years of service she still didn’t want to go.  She was 90 years old.

"I got a letter from the board of education transferring me to Renaissance High to teach English.  I haven’t taught English since the ‘40s."

Instead she remained at Earhart as a volunteer following her life’s purpose.

"I think that we need to teach the children to desire to read.  At this point they watch too much television instead of reading."

Mary Grimes had a simpler childhood.  Born during World War I she was raised on a farm in Ohio.

"We always went into town on Saturday’s, the family did and I always went to the library and I also remember that my parents let me eat my meal, dinner fast and go to the living room and sit down and read.  I remember that."

At 96, Mary needs someone to drive her to and from school but she comes nearly everyday and works with other volunteers to keep the shelves stocked with precious books.

"You could have retired 20 years ago.  Why didn’t you?"

"I wanted to be in the library, I wanted to encourage students to read, I wanted to keep this going and I sure didn’t want to sit at home."