Gloucester Woman Gives Final Book Proceeds To Sawyer Free 2025 Challenge Grant Campaign

Gloucester native Marion Frost has donated $4,000 to the sawyerfree2025.org $100,000 challenge grant campaign that concludes at midnight on December 31. The gift, which comprises the last of the proceeds from her 2011 book, “My Gloucester: Views of a Provincial,” will be matched by an anonymous family fund backing the challenge campaign and pushes total donations by the general public to $88,000 since the October 18 launch.

A lifelong devotee of public libraries, a former children’s librarian and a published author, Gloucester native Marion O’Connell Frost has donated $4,000 to the sawyerfree2025.org $100,000 challenge grant campaign that concludes at midnight on December 31. The gift, which comprises the last of the proceeds from her 2011 book, “My Gloucester: Views of a Provincial,” will be matched by an anonymous family fund backing the challenge campaign and pushes total donations by the general public to $88,000 since the October 18 launch.

“Call it a widow’s mite,” quipped the 93-year-old Frost, who has lived in Ipswich for the past 50 years. “It’s fun to play a small part and it’s going to make me very happy to see Sawyer Free Library enlarged. I’m thrilled that the original building will remain intact. That is part of the reason I’m supporting Sawyer Free 2025.” 

Frost, who is nearing completion of a second book, first kindled her love of libraries at Sawyer Free as a child, but went on to work as a librarian at New York’s Schenectady County Public Library as well as the Utica Public Library during the 1950s. She has also served as a member of the board of trustees for the Pembroke Public Library, and spent 30 years in that same role for the Ipswich Public Library, where she now holds emeritus status as a board member. 

“I spent a lot of time in the Sawyer Free library growing up—a lot of time,” she said. “Starting out in the children’s room upstairs, then I graduated to the adult section downstairs and that’s when I was introduced to the stacks—just the little stacks, not the big ones they have now. They were just one little area back then, and I spent a lot of time in the stacks just reading. I especially remember Miss Flatley from Manchester, who was the children’s librarian.”

Frost’s husband, the late David W. Frost, worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield and was oft-transferred before eventually becoming president of that healthcare association. The couple, who share four children, attended Sunday School at Trinity Congregational Church together, but didn’t meet until they attended the same history and chemistry classes at Gloucester High School. 

Full-time motherhood didn’t interrupt Frost’s professional life for long. A Sawyer Medal winner in 1943, she already had an undergraduate degree from Boston University, but earned her master’s at BU once the family relocated to Massachusetts, and followed that up with a master’s in moderate special needs teaching from Lesley University. Frost ultimately became a special needs teacher at Ipswich High.

“Marion’s dedication to education and to Sawyer library is an inspiration,” said Sawyer Free 2025 Campaign Manager Sarah Oaks. “Her generosity and thoughtfulness in donating the final proceeds of her beautiful book to our matching challenge grant comes at a perfect time as our deadline approaches, and has pushed us to the threshold of $90,000 with just a few days to go.”

For her part, Frost says her loyalty to her native city—both financial and creative—is about Gloucester’s unmatched natural beauty.

“I am a Gloucester girl,” she said. “It’s my hometown. As a kid, when I got old enough to go places by myself, I’d go down to the Boulevard and look out at the Atlantic Ocean and think, ‘If I keep looking, I will see Europe.’ I’ve always loved being on the edge of places. I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world. I’ve hiked in South America, in the Caucasus Mountains and in Nepal, but personally, I think Gloucester is one of the most beautiful places in the whole world. And that’s what I say in my book.” 

Frost’s first book retailed for $20 a copy and underwent two printings by King Printing in Lowell, but is now out of print. It ran 94 pages in length and featured more than two dozen photos of Gloucester locales shot by Frost herself. In 2011, Frost donated $5,000 worth of book profits to the City Hall Restoration Commission. Her new book, “Mother of Mine,” will be a tribute to the life and times of her mother, Celia Elizabeth Brooks O’Connell.

Sawyer Free 2025 (visit sawyerfree2025.org) is a fully philanthropic capital campaign to fund a comprehensive renovation, modernization and expansion of Cape Ann’s oldest public library.

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