John Wilkes went to the Masury Post Office one day and saw a free library posted outside the door.
“I’m like, ‘Oh, man, I love that,” Wilkes said, and he told Postmaster Danelle Just, “I want one.”
Well, he got one, in a way.
A couple days later, Just called Wilkes and told him that the library was built in honor of his wife, Rachelle A. Campbell-Wilkes, who died unexpectedly Sept. 6 at age 50. Campbell-Wilkes had been a rural mail carrier for 22 years. She delivered in Brookfield, but was stationed in Masury.
Just said she knew reading was a passion for Campbell-Wilkes, making the free library an appropriate remembrance.
“My wife loved the library – she loved books,” Wilkes said, particularly cookbooks and scary stories. “Her and my kids were up there every week at the library.”
Campbell-Wilkes, a mother of four, with two still at home, mostly visited the Brookfield Branch of the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, but also went to other branches within the system.
“My wife hit them all,” Wilkes said. “She just loved books.”
Retired postal service employee Ray Giancola built the library, which was decorated by the entire Masury Post office staff, Just said.
“It is open and available to the public, to anyone,” Just said, when asked how a free library works. “You can take a book for free, at no cost. Leave a book, if you have one to donate for others to enjoy. It is available 24/7.”
The library opened Dec. 22 and was cleaned out the first week.
“Somebody put some plush animals in there, which was kind of a surprise,” Just said. “The whole thing cleared. They took all the books and we just stocked it up again.”
Since then, community members also have added books.
“It’s something that reminds us daily of her, and her spunk for life,” Just said. “She was always positive and thoughtful and caring of others.”
“She had the biggest heart of anybody I’ve ever met,” said Wilkes, Campbell-Wilkes’ husband of 13 years. “She would give the shirt off her back. She’s do anything for everybody. She was funny, she loved to laugh a lot. She was a great person to be around. Everybody loved being around her.”
And, she loved being a mail carrier.
“Everywhere you work, you have your ups and downs,” Wilkes said, “but, mostly, that was her way to get away.”