Sculpture honoring possibilities of reading unveiled at library’s Eastern Branch


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SHREWSBURY – Terming the sculpture by Franco Minervini “fantastic,” Ted Raffetto told a crowd at the Monmouth County Library’s Eastern Branch that his uncle Charles Raffetto would be thrilled at the visual portrayal of Endless Possibilities through Reading.

Charles Raffetto, who died in August 2016 at age 89, bequeathed funds in his will to the library because of his own appreciation of libraries and love of reading during his lifetime, according to a press release from the Monmouth County Library System.

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A native of Manasquan and one of five children, Raffetto was a graduate of Manasquan High School in 1944 and a U.S. Navy veteran before earning a degree from Villanova University, then earning a doctorate in medicine.

Raffetto later changed his career to work in the U.S. Post Office because of his love for his hometown and Monmouth County, and dedicated his free time to reading and gardening, according to the press release.

His only remaining sibling, Elvira Raffetto, and most of his 16 nephews and nieces, together with several great-nieces and great-nephews, were in attendance at the May 15 outdoor ceremony in front of the sculpture on the Route 35 side of the library in Shrewsbury.

Monmouth County Commissioner Lillian G. Burry, the county liaison to the Library Commission, and a strong advocate of the sculpture, introduced the donor’s nephew and Minervini, who was also in attendance at the event.

Traveling from his home in New York for the event, Minervini said he was pleased with the presentation of the sculpture in a library garden setting and was happy to be present to meet the Raffetto family.

Library Commission Chair Nancy Grbelja served as master of ceremonies for the event and
recognized current library members as well as past members in attendance who worked on the committee that deciding the sculpture would be a fitting memorial to Raffetto’s wishes.

Renee B. Swartz, the former Library Commission chair, as well as former Shrewsbury mayor and former library commissioner Donald Burden, former Atlantic Highlands councilman Peter Doyle, and Grace Abramov were commended together with current members, former Freehold Township mayor Barbara McMorrow, Atlantic Highlands Councilman Brian Boms, Marcy McMullen, Mary Ann Musich and former Union Beach councilman Frank A. Wells, all of whom approved the sculpture as a fitting tribute to its
donor and the many advantages the library offers to everyone, according to the press release.

In introducing Swartz, who Burry described as “a grand lady (who has) been here right from the beginning,” the county commissioner presented the former chair with a bouquet of flowers in recognition of her years of volunteer service and leadership.

Swartz, who is currently chair of the New Jersey Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, presented a plaque from the center to Grbelja, Burry and Library Director Judith Tolchin, with the Library of Congress’ recognition of the Eastern Branch being a landmark learning institution for a half-century.

Swartz praised the staff and the commission for the growth and broad range of academia, recreation, education, science and enjoyment the library provides on a daily basis to the residents of Monmouth County.

Burry, who has been the liaison from the county’s governing body to the library throughout her continuing service as a county commissioner and former director, noted that the success of the library, as in any successful venture, depends on a team working together, which is something she said is always evident in the library through its employees, director and the Library Commission, according to the press release.

Boy Scouts of Shrewsbury Troop 50 presented colors for the event and former county clerk M. Claire French led the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Rev. Scott Brown of the Colts Neck Reformed Church gave the invocation.

Grbelja introduced many of the guests present for the event, including, in addition to Burry, other county commissioners present, Directors Thomas Arnone, Susan Kiley, Nick DiRocco and Ross Licitra.

Music for the event was provided by guitarist and songwriter Michael Wells of Union Beach.

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