One of Delaware County’s overlooked treasures is the Wornstaff Memorial Library in Ashley. The stretch of open, undeveloped farmland along U.S. Route 42 north is balm for the soul. No stoplights and no strip malls!
The story of the Wornstaff family is fascinating. Remember when wealthy people gave money for libraries and other public works, rather than building spaceships? You can see their portraits and read the nearby plaque.
I enjoy the character of this well-kept, recently remodeled building. The children’s section is bright and cheery, and the periodical selection is diverse.
Browsing the new books section, I discovered Steven V. Roberts’ book about his late wife titled C”okie: A Life Well Lived.” Cokie Roberts died of breast cancer in 2019 after a long career in broadcast journalism for ABC and NPR.
I’ll admit, I did not know much about her until reading the book, and now that I am more familiar with her story, I would like to return to the library to borrow one of the many books which she wrote.
In my preaching notebook, I have recorded three quotations from the book, which not only give us a glimpse of the type of person Cokie was, but also provides inspiration for the type of people we may aspire to become.
Observed one of her colleagues, George Will, “She was largely immune to the abiding failure of Washington journalism, which is to think that everything’s as momentous as it feels at the moment.”
Cokie Roberts had a good knowledge of history, and that is one of the best antidotes to not overreacting to every single thing that happens. A knowledge of history gives us perspective, and if we take history seriously, we are less likely to repeat some of the mistakes of the past.
I don’t pretend to have an extensive historical knowledge, but this reminds me to spend more of my time learning about the past, rather than being consumed and overwhelmed by “breaking news” of the last 24 hours.
Many of the people who worked with her respected her strong moral compass. For instance, she did not hesitate to hold then-President Bill Clinton accountable for his extra-marital affair with a White House intern. This was not something to be lightly brushed aside. Said one co-worker, “Cokie made the case that you’re not going to be a good leader if you don’t have a strong moral core.”
Whether you are dealing with Bill Clinton or Donald Trump or less prominent people, it’s true: How can they be a good leader if they do not have a strong moral core?
The third quotation was especially helpful to me as I think it would be to anyone whose work involves reading email communication or comments posted on social media sites.
Cokie once told David Letterman, “Nothing is worse than the computer mail. On the internet people are anonymous and they feel complete freedom to say any old dreadful thing.
“There really is something to be said for good manners. Now I have a form letter that says, ‘Your mother would be ashamed of you.’”
Indeed, if you read some of the online comments on newspaper websites or on social media platforms that allow people to write whatever they want, you think, “That’s awful. Your mother would be ashamed of you.”
I miss hearing Cokie Roberts’ voice. I’m glad the people who knew her well are helping us learn more about her moral and ethical values. This is just a sampling from her husband’s book. Check it out and enjoy it.
Rev. Philip Wilden is the pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church, located at 55 W. Lincoln Ave. in Delaware.