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Library honors its longest-serving volunteer
Bruce Koehler
The Forsyth County Public Library honored Bruce Koehler on Nov. 30 for 30 years of volunteer service.

Almost 50 people gathered at the Cumming Library on Nov. 30 to honor Bruce Koehler on his 30-year anniversary as a shelving volunteer for Forsyth County Public Library.

Guests included current and former co-workers, library patrons and many friends.  

Formerly an arbitrator who handled labor negotiations and litigation for Norfolk Southern Railroad, Koehler holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. 

He suffered a stroke in 1988 and conquers numerous obstacles each day including limited speech and mobility. Koehler uses Dial-A-Ride to get to the library for his two volunteer library shifts a week shelving in the Teen, Large Print, and Spanish collections. 

Koehler began volunteering for the library in 1991 as part of his stroke rehabilitation. That was five years before Forsyth County Public Library even existed as an independent single county library system.

“Bruce has more longevity at FCPL than anyone in this room or anyone on staff,” Library Director Anna Lyle said.

With an average of 17 hours of volunteer service per week, Koehler is well known for his cheerfulness, diligence, and outstanding eye for detail. 

He prides himself on finding items that are on the wrong cart, missing stickers, or shelved incorrectly and he keeps track of the number of carts he shelves each day as well as the number of items he finds in the wrong place. 

Thanks to Koehler’s daily tallies, Information Services Supervisor Joan Dudzinski estimates that Koehler has shelved 1,404,000 books to date. 

“He keeps our branch looking great, and the staff and patrons love him,” Koehler’s supervisor Andrea DelValle said.

Several other former co-workers spoke at the celebration including Liz Forster, former assistant director for public services at FCPL. Forster credited Koehler for teaching her three valuable life lessons. 

“He taught me the importance of purpose, the importance of service, and the importance of community,” she said.

Gabi Santangelo, an accounting assistant and former collection support aide who worked side by side with Koehler at the Cumming Library said: “Bruce started [volunteering at FCPL] before I was even born or thought of … I just remember looking forward to coming to work every day to work with him because he was always the bright spot in my day.” 

Joyce Mullins, a friend of Koehler’s from Waypoint Baptist Church, formerly known as North Lanier Baptist, shared that Koehler doesn’t just volunteer at the library but is also an active volunteer at his church and at the Forsyth Cumming Optimist Club. 

“Bruce really is the embodiment of determination and perseverance,” Lyle said. “He has overcome many challenges to volunteer with us and we really appreciate his thirty years of service.”