Franco Minervini and Lillian G. Burry stand before the sculture

Possibilities through Reading dedication

SHREWSBURY  – Terming the sculpture by Franco Minervini  “Fantastic,”  Ted Raffetto told a crowd at the Monmouth County Library’s Eastern Branch that his uncle Charles Raffetto would be thrilled at the visual portrayal of Endless Possibilities through Reading.

Charles Raffetto, who died in August, 2016 at age 89, bequeathed funds in his will to the library because of his own appreciation of libraries and love of reading during his lifetime. A native of Manasquan, one of five children, he was a graduate of Manasquan High School in 1944, and a Navy veteran before earning  a degree from Villanova University, the earning a doctorate in medicine. Raffetto later changed his career to work in the US Post Office because of his love for his hometown and Monmouth County,  and dedicated his free time to reading and gardening. His only remaining sibling, Elvira Raffetto, and most of his 16 nephews and nieces, together with several great nieces and nephews, were in attendance at the outdoor ceremony in front of the sculpture on the Route 35 side of the library.

Monmouth County Commissioner Lillian G. Burry, the county liaison to the Library Commission, and a strong advocate of the sculpture, introduced both the donor’s nephew and Minervini, also in attendance at the event. Minervini is well known internationally, but most appreciated in Monmouth County for his sculpture in the Memorial Garden at Mount Mitchill, Atlantic Highlands, constructed after 9-11 and included a piece of the World Trade Center in the talons of an eagle.  Traveling from his home in New York for the event, Minervini said he was pleased with the presentation of the sculpture in a library garden setting and was happy to be there to meet the Raffetto family.


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Library Commission Chairman Nancy Grebelja was master of ceremonies for the event, and recognized both current library members as well as past members in attendance who had worked on the committee to decide the sculpture as a fitting memorial to Raffetto’s wishes.

Former Library Commission Chair Renee B. Swartz who spearheaded the library for more than half a century from its formative years until two years ago, as well as former Shrewsbury Mayor and former Library Commissioner Donald Burden, former Atlantic Highlands councilman Peter Doyle and Grace Abramov,  were commended together with current members, former Freehold Township Mayor Barbara McMorrow, Atlantic Highlands Councilman Brian Boms, Marcy McMullen, Mary Ann Musich, and former Union Beach Councilman Frank A. Wells, all of whom approved the sculpture as a fitting tribute to its donor and the many advantages the library offers to everyone.

In introducing Swartz, who she described as  “a grand lady, you’ve been here right from the beginning,” Burry presented her with a bouquet of flowers for her years of volunteer service and leadership. Swartz, who is currently chairperson of the NJ Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, presented a plaque from the Center to Grbelja, Burry and Library Director Judith  Tolchin, with the Library of Congress’ recognition of the Eastern Branch Library being a landmark learning institution for half a century. Swartz praised both the staff and the commission for the growth and broad range of academia, recreation, education, science, and enjoyment the library gives on a daily basis to the residents of Monmouth County. 

Burry, who has been the liaison from the county to the library throughout her continuing service as a county commissioner and former Director, noted the success of the library, as in any successful venture, depends on a team working together, something that is always evident within the library through its employees, director, and the library commission.

Boy Scouts of Shrewsbury Troop 50 presented colors for the event Saturday, and former County Clerk M. Claire French led the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Rev. Scott Brown of the Colts Neck Reformed Church, gave the invocation.

Grebelja introduced may of the guests present for the event, including, in addition to Commissioner Burry, other county commissioners present Directors Thomas Arnone, Susan Kiley, Nick DiRocco and Ross Licitra.

Music for the event was provided by guitarist and song writer Michael Wells of Union Beach.

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Muriel J. Smith

Muriel J Smith

Muriel J Smith an award-winning journalist, former newspaper editor, book author and historian, Her newest venture is her blog, in...