At Frederick Eugene Lykes Jr. Memorial Library in Brooksville, a woman of words is being remembered via images; Beautiful murals whose custom creation has ensured that Brooksville’s Barbara Fisher will always have a place, and at one of her favorite places too!
One look at Barbara Fisher’s obituary shows a portrait of a life well lived. Fisher, who passed away on September 19, 2020, was one of the first women to join the Philadelphia police force, later graduating cum laude from Saint Leo University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. She then took a position with the Hernando County Clerk of Court’s office before eventually retiring as the Corrections Program Coordinator for the county. After retirement, Barbara stayed active as a community volunteer and traveled across the U.S. and more than 40 countries throughout Europe and Asia, writing a travelogue of her adventures at https://barbarasadventures.com/. But she also took many journeys of the mind, via her love for reading. And upon her passing, contributions in her memory were requested for her local library (https://hernandocountylibrary.us/support-2/).
This week, the library is repaying the favor, hosting two unveilings of the Barbara Fisher Memorial Project at the Main Library/Brooksville, 238 Howell Ave. According to information provided by Cindy Loftis-Culp, Library Services Director of Hernando County Public Library System, the first unveiling, scheduled to feature an appearance by son Brian Fisher, is scheduled to take place 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Oct. 6. And to kick off Founder’s Day celebrations, and showcase the results of this collaborative effort, an additional unveiling has been scheduled for Saturday, October 9th, from 10am to 2pm. As the branch itself is not open to the public on Saturdays, entrance to the atrium will be through the atrium gate on the side of the building. Signs will be posted to direct guests to the unveiling.
“The Barbara Fisher Memorial Project was envisioned as a means to create a space that captured Mrs. Fisher’s love of reading and travel. As both embody a sense of exploration, the space chosen was the outdoor atmosphere of the Main library atrium which enables the imagination to roam unconstrained,” read information provided by Glorea Charland, MLIS, Library Information Specialist II / Tech, of Hernando County Public Library. “Thus, a revitalization of the space began to take shape with the addition of new plantings, a memorial plaque and a solar fountain of a young boy and girl sitting together on a park bench reading. The space, also enclosed with bare block wall, seemed only fitting for artwork that would help capture the same.”
A number of community agencies are credited with making this project possible:
Brooksville Main Street, Hernando County Facilities Dept., Hernando County Fine Arts Council, Hernando County Utilities Department-Florida-Friendly Landscaping, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County, private donors, State Aid to Libraries Grant program, and mural artists Renata Villemaire and Nancy Barry.
“Brooksville Main Street organized and published the Call to Artists. We collected the entries and sent them to the library staff for selection. We also paid $500 towards the artist payments,” said Natalie Kahler, Executive Director of Brooksville Main Street.
Villemaire says that she is personally inspired by the setting of the Brooksville library. “Thank you. I love reading. Cozying up in front of a window with a favorite book. Where it’s just you and your dreams and memories. I always remember as a kid how grand and beautiful my hometown library was with millions of books. Well for a kid everything was so big like a whole entire world opening in front of you. I just want all local kids to remember this Brooksville library as magical as I remember mine at home. I appreciate the opportunity,” she said.
Barry hopes to spread and share the creative spark that inspires her work. “I love anything that involves giving back to my community, especially when it involves children. I feel honored to make such a bright and fun piece, hoping to light that fire within each of us! We hold all of our potential within us & if we use the right tools – our dreams will have no limitations,” she said.
And it’s all in honor of a woman who herself knew no limitations. “The Arts Council is delighted to help bring artists and potential customers together! This project is a great example of the beauty that results from that creative synergy. When the library contacted the Arts Council, we knew right away to contact Brooksville Main Street and let them know about the project as we thought it was a great match for their Mobile Mural Program. Artists Nancy Barry and Renata Villemaire did a wonderful job creating this beautiful memorial for Barbara Fisher,” said Allisa Babor, Media Contact of the Hernando County Arts Council.