ALBANY — For Registered Nurse Robin Fletcher Elmore, teacher Patsy Devane left a legacy of caring that continues to impact Elmore’s life decades later.
Now the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital registered nurse wants to return the favor by leaving her own positive legacy.
Elmore plans to sponsor one of Melissa Strother’s “Littlest Library on the Block” Birdhouse Books projects, most likely at the west Albany restaurant of her sister, businesswoman and Albany City Commissioner B.J. Fletcher. Elmore says her motivation is to try and impact youngsters the same way Devane impacted her life.
“Miss Devane taught me to love reading,” Elmore, who is undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer, said. “She was my first-grade teacher at Pine Grove Elementary in Valdosta, and she took a special interest in me that played a big part in my becoming the person I am. I didn’t like to take naps, so while my classmates were sleeping, Miss Devane would let me pick out books to read during nap time. And on weekends she would take me to the bookmobile.
“My family grew up poor, and there was no money for speech therapy to help me with my speech impediment. But Miss Devane helped work it out where I got help. I credit her for the love of reading I have today, and I want to take part in the Little Library project to honor her.”
Elmore said, given her family’s history, Devane’s influence on her is even more significant.
“We had a family secret that was a strong motivator for me,” Elmore said. “My dad could not read or write, and even though he ended up having his own successful business, I know he felt he could have done more if he’d had an education. Our parents tried to keep it from us, but us kids knew daddy couldn’t read or write.
“However, one thing he did is make sure we went to school and learned the things he didn’t.”
Elmore said she plans to take special interest in her sponsorship of a Littlest Library.
“We’re thinking of giving kids rewards for finishing books and maybe each month giving a special prize to the one who reads the most,” she said. “My hope is that this project will inspire parents to get more involved in their kids’ education.
“If you teach a child to read, they can pick themselves up by their bootstraps. I’m an example of that.”
Elmore said working on the reading project will be therapeutic in her ongoing battle against cancer.
“I’m excited about being involved,” she said. “My friends and family say they’re worried about me, but I have no fear. No matter what, I know where I’m going.
“I want to do this to help others. If I can do that, I’ll leave behind my own legacy and hopefully have the same kind of impact on kids that Miss Devane had on me.”