By Heather Stough

The W. Anne Gibson-Esmond Station Library is just a few short months away from opening its doors. Due to COVID-19 a ribbon cutting date has not been set, but plans are being made for opening in early 2021. The first library in Vail, located at 10931 E. Mary Ann Cleveland Way, has been a long awaited, long advocated for, and much needed in the Vail community. The driving force behind the advocacy for the library is the library’s namesake, Whittley Anne Gibson.

On an afternoon about a year ago, over 100 people from across Vail gathered to honor Anne Gibson on her 80th Birthday. Someone asked the question: how many of you have served on a committee with Anne? Almost every hand in the room went up! It is likely that nearly every person who raised a hand was a happy victim of an arm-twisting request by Anne to serve on a committee.

Ever since Anne and her husband Howard opened the Rincon General Store in 1983, Anne has been connecting and engaging people in building community. Anne knows how to gather and unite people around a cause far greater than any one individual, and take the group to achievements far beyond anyone’s imagination. And now Vail has a library because of Anne’s extraordinary gift of doing so.

Ethan Hurley, long time Vail educator who served with Anne on the committee to get the library in Vail, stated, “I can say with 100% certainty that if it were not for Anne’s dogged determination, we would not have a library in Vail.”

The journey started as Anne began advocating for the library to be placed into the bond package in 2018. The library made it into the bond package but did not pass. When Anne told the story, she shared that at that point she was ten years into her advocacy for the library, and in typical Anne fashion declared that there was no way that she was stopping now!

Anne utilized her influence, determination, continued phone calls, more meetings, and tireless advocacy to identify the funds and create the non-profit organization, Friends of the Esmond Station Library. Edward Buster, Member of the Southeast Regional Council and Vice President of Friends of the W. Anne Gibson-Esmond Station Library, shared, “Over the course of the past 12 years, Anne painstakingly networked, advocated, influenced, mentored, and inspired every major benevolent group, organization, and leader throughout Pima County through her unbridled commitment to making every life better.” And, twelve years of determination later, the community members of Vail are about to reap the benefits of Ms. Gibson’s relentless dedication to the Vail community.

The library is far from the first contribution that Anne Gibson has made in Vail. One could not begin to list the hundreds of ways that Anne has influenced the Vail School District and built community in Vail since she moved here. Among her long list of accolades, Anne is the founder of Vail Pride Day and was a VUSD Board Member from 1999 to 2010. Calvin Baker, retired VUSD superintendent, stated, “Vail is a much better place because of Anne Gibson. She led the development of multiple, highly successful community events and pushed the Vail School District to #1 status while serving on the Governing Board. Anne has consistently pulled us together and held us to the highest standards.”

Now that the library is here, we are anxious to see what Anne will accomplish next. Anne is always moving ahead to the “next thing.” In true Anne fashion, before the library is even open, she is already talking about her quest to expand it.

In the words of Anne Gibson herself, “In my years as a volunteer in the greater Vail area, I have always tried to do something that would be good for the residents whether it be children, their parents, educators, or the challenge of securing a Pima County Public library serving all ages. In my volunteer service every decision has always been with what is best in my eyes for our community.”

Anne Gibson, Vail is forever indebted to you. For years to come, we will all pass by the W. Anne Gibson – Esmond Station Library and be inspired by your determination, your vision, and your heart for our community.

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Lucretia Free