LIGONIER — The Ligonier community is mourning the loss of its longtime executive director of the Ligonier Public Library, Jerry Nesbitt. Nesbitt died unexpectedly Sunday at his home.
The library remained open Monday, but library board president Carmen Gierhan said the board of trustees will meet Tuesday in an emergency session to determine how to move forward.
Gierhan had high praise for Nesbitt, who steered the library through a major remodeling project that was completed in 2015.
“He was amazing,” Gierhan said. “He was willing to explain to the board. He was willing to work with the members as needed. He was very helpful, very generous.”
The remodeling project added space to expand the library’s services, classes, story times and summer reading programs to patrons. The remodeling required Nesbitt to relocate the library to what Gierhan called “the old CVS building” for months while construction continued.
Gierhan said Nesbitt’s latest project was with technology to help students.
“He was working on a Hot Spot program to check out for better internet to help e-learning,” Gierhan said. “Hopefully we can continue that.”
Gierhan said Nesbitt’s family informed the library staff of his death on Sunday and had kept the library board updated. The library posted the following statement on its Facebook page Monday morning:
“A life so beautifully lived deserves to be beautifully remembered. Please join us as we celebrate the life of Jerry Lee Nesbitt. His viewing and funeral will be at The Crosswalk (Ligonier United Methodist Church), located at 468 Townline Road, Ligonier, IN 46767. Visitation and funeral times are as follows.
Thursday – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Funeral services: Friday – 2 p.m.
The funeral service will be officiated by Jean Ness and will be a time to reflect on Jerry’s life and sharing experiences of him. A funeral procession will occur, passing the Ligonier Public Library, laying Jerry to rest at Sparta Cemetery.
A celebration dinner will follow at The Crosswalk, where the funeral services are being held.”
Gierhan said she has reached out to the state library board for guidance for the next few days and weeks. The local library trustees will determine when the library will be closed during Nesbitt’s visitation on Thursday and funeral services Friday.
“Just bear with us as we progress forward,” Gierhan said. “Be patient with us as the board makes this transition in the coming weeks.”
Nesbitt was a native son of Ligonier, graduating from West Noble High School in 1969. He was actively involved in many community events in Ligonier.
Former Ligonier council member Patti Sheppard said she worked with Nesbitt on the Ligonier Sesquicentennial celebration in 1986. She was the committee chair and Nesbitt served as the vice chair.
Nesbitt and Sheppard served together on the committee for Strawberry Valley Days, the forerunner of today’s Ligonier Marshmallow Festival.
“We met at the library before 1985” to plan for a historical celebration of the milestone, Sheppard said.
Sheppard said they served four years together on the Aging and in-Home Services board of directors as well as Citizen of the Year honors from the Ligonier Chamber of Commerce.
Nesbitt was Citizen of the Year in 1988 and Sheppard would receive the same honor a couple of years later, she said.
Nesbitt also served on the United Way of Noble County board of directors. He had been a history teacher before becoming the library’s executive director.