Mary King’s love of books lives on

Published 4:32 pm Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mary Anne Hunter King was a woman who loved people, loved books, and had an idea to bring those loves together – a book group.

In 2000, King was shopping for groceries when she spotted friend Linda Blanton and asked if she would be interested in forming a book group. The group would be booklover friendly: no dues, no refreshments, no homes, and no work – just read and discuss books.

Over a year passed and Blanton called King after her retirement. “Do you still want to do your book club?” asked Blanton.

King replied, “Yes!”

King and Blanton called fellow book lovers, including Jane Bailey, librarian at the Columbiana Public Library, who loved the idea. Bailey offered a room at the library and help to acquire copies of the books to read.

In April, 2001, the first meeting was held to discuss the book, “Change Me into Zeus’s Daughter” by Barbara Robinette Moss. “It is my most favorite book that we have ever read,” said Bailey. Approximately 15 people came to that first meeting and that number has stayed consistent to date.

King was diagnosed with a rare incurable cancer of the fallopian tubes in the fall, 2006.

“The book group was such an important part of Mary Anne’s life,” said husband Chuck. “Even when she was so sick, she came to the meetings because she loved the group and her friends so much.”

After her death July 14, 2009, Chuck and daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer and Chriss Smiley, suggested memorial donations be given to the library that she loved so much.

The response was overwhelming. As you enter the library on the left, there is a beautiful new bookcase which houses all the books that the group has read in the last nine years, plus new King memorial additions.

A dedication reception was held in early February at the library to unveil the “Mary Anne King Memorial Collection.” Friends and family met over refreshments to reminisce of stories about King. To honor their friend and founder, Bailey announced that the group’s new name, the Mary Anne King Book Group.

Drop by the Columbiana Library; see the beautiful bookcase that houses the King collection and the plaque that honors her. All are welcome to read one of the collection’s books and come to the library on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. and join the Mary Anne Book Group.

Phoebe Robinson is currently resting at home she can be reached by e–mail at