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TOWNSEND -- Not everyone has a library named after themselves, but Irene Collette does.

Friends and family gathered in the meeting hall at the Townsend Public Library, dedicated to Richard and Irene Collette, 20th century leading citizens. The building, which also includes a senior center, opened in October 2009.

The party on March 9 was a chance for Collette to see her extended family. Over 100 people enjoyed soup and sandwiches while the musically inclined played the upright piano.

One granddaughter and her son traveled up from New York city, another from Maine and another from Boston.

It was also a chance for Collette to visit Townsend. "I miss my Townsend," she said. She and her husband moved to RiverCourt Residences in Groton four years ago. Richard passed away four months before the building dedicated to them opened.

Collette still has strong ties to Townsend. The Patterson family discussed how important Collette is in their life. Rina and the Rev. Kevin Patterson, pastor at the First Baptist Church of West Townsend, had triplets 15 years ago.

"She's been a grandmother to our kids," he said. Collette came by every week, helping the overwhelmed young mother by taking care of the babies, helping with laundry and washing the floors.

The 75-year-old did more than just a wipe and a promise on those floors. She got right down on her hands and knees to scrub them. Collette did anything the family needed, Rina said.

As a 90-year-old, she is still out there helping others.


She is a one-woman greeting committee and welcoming person at RiverCourt. "Irene is the person who shows (new residents) around," her daughter-in-law, Michelle Collette, said.

"She's so warm and welcoming to everyone," Michelle said. Newcomers do not have to worry about sitting alone -- Irene Collette will be there. She helps residents adjust to their new home.

She also lets the new people know she has that library named after her, family members said.

The nonagenarian had a little help from a cane, but had no trouble moving through the spacious building. "She's in really good health," Michelle said.

Michelle Collette and family friend Cheryl Simoneau did much of the organizing for the event. Irene was excited about the party. She asked Simoneau about it every time they talked on the phone.

Irene did a bit of organizing herself at the party. When it was time to leave the main library after taking some pictures, a couple was in the far reaches of the room.

"Oh, I'll get them," Collette said, and went off to talk with them.