Tipp City Public Library
Tipp City, Ohio
Dewey, Tipp City’s one and only library cat for the past 16 years, has passed away. Friends of Dewey should know that he died, without assistance, in the loving care of Jeff and Lisa Hendricks of the Tippecanoe Veterinary Hospital. He had remained with his library family until his last day, January 26, 2007.
Dewey’s health had been in steady decline for the past few weeks and those who loved him are comforted that he is at peace.
Most Tipp City residents know the story of how Dewey came to live at the library in early 1991. He was a stray without options as February brought bitter winds, an ice-storm, and snow. He was already a familiar friend to many of the staff members who had been sharing their lunches with the little waif for weeks.
That February storm passed, and the staff didn’t see the orange and white longhair for several days. They became certain that he had not made it through the harsh weather. So, when he reappeared many days later, they took action to keep him from struggling through another Ohio cold snap. They asked then Library Director, Pat Liening if Dewey could live at the library.
As Dewey’s backers’ had assumed, Mrs. Liening was fairly easy to convince that their proposal was feasible. Everyone knew her to be as softhearted for a pet as anyone, particularly for this little fellow who purred with the volume near that of a motorboat. Besides, it was not unusual to hear of other libraries that had gone out on a limb to give a stray cat a home. In fact, library cats were a bit of a trend back then.
A few days later, Mrs. Liening took the matter of Dewey’s status before the board of trustees. The staff was delighted when Mrs. Liening reported that Dewey could move in with full approval from the library’s leaders.
It quickly became evident that Dewey would pull his own weight around the library. He roamed in and out as patrons came and went. He visited homes, businesses, and churches, taking the message of goodwill from the public library as his free pass into the hearts and lives of all he met. He became known in library circles throughout the state and his story was featured in newspapers, magazines, and on the Internet.
To Dewey’s community, the staff members became more than workers who shushed the kids and reminded patrons of overdue books. They were people who cared, and they were unable to turn away from a small and desperate friend.
As his life progressed, Dewey reached a grandeur that none could have expected. As a full-grown cat, he was about 17 pounds of the most handsome, personality-plus tomcat that anyone could have imagined.
But the passage of time would take its toll, as it always will. Eventually, the staff would need to curtail his wandering to keep him safe. Still, he had teen meetings to attend, photo shoots, patrons and staff to entertain with that rumbling purr, and plenty of friends who came to the library to visit and cheer him. He lived a long, productive life in the company of those who adored him.
To all who mourn Dewey’s passing, his library family can offer only that it was his time, and he went easily. He left his loved ones with so many sweet memories. But most importantly, the memories of Dewey’s life will remain with his library family as a vivid illustration of how going the extra mile for a friend in need can bring the richest rewards.
The library staff and trustees wish to thank everyone who helped Dewey along the way.