A serenade, a poem and congratulations from well-wishers helped Davenport Public Library Director LaWanda Roudebush close the book on a career and a legacy that will continue for decades.

Roudebush, who will retire officially Jan. 31, received congratulations from colleagues, friends and library administrators Sunday evening at a reception held in her honor in the Scott County Regional Authority Community Room in the Davenport Public Library Fairmount Branch, 3000 N. Fairmount St. The standing-room only crowd gathered to thank her for her service.

Roudebush heard congratulations for a solid hour as various presenters praised her personally and her professional achievements. During her tenure, which began in 2003, the Fairmount and Eastern Avenue branches of the library opened, and the main library downtown was renovated.

“Anyone that knows LaWanda (knows) she’s always got a new idea,” said Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba, who was among the presenters. “She gets the job done. She has been a jewel for our city.”

He joked that “behind every good woman is a good man, and that man is Peter Roudebush. God bless you both,” Gluba said.

Chords ’R’ Us, part of the The Chordbusters Barbershop Chorus and Quartets, sang three tunes, including “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and a song with the lyrics “LaWanda, LaWanda, bless your heart” to Roudebush, whom they announced as their Chordbusters Valentine Sweetheart for 2013.

Former Quad-City Poet Laureate Dick Stahl, upon reading about Roudebush’s retirement, composed a poem for her called “Shining Horse Chestnuts.” He compared library books to chestnuts, and praised Roudebush for understanding growth, maturity and beauty.

Greg Lundgren, president of the Davenport Public Library’s Board of Trustees, thanked Roudebush for her “unparalleled public service,” saying it was “an absolute pleasure working with LaWanda over all these years.” He read anecdotes and greetings from Roudebush’s prior service, adding that there seemed to be a pattern at each facility where she previously served: Each had a leaky roof.

“I am proud to report that she leaves us today with no leaks.” he said.

Roudebush spoke briefly, telling the crowd of well-wishers that “You’ve become so dear to me. And the city has become so dear to me,” she said.

She moved back to Davenport in 2003 after serving as library director in Fort Dodge, Iowa. She had worked at the Davenport Public Library as a reference librarian for the Southeastern Regional Library System until 1992. In between, she worked at two library systems in the Chicago suburbs.

At the event, she also thanked her “fantastic staff” along with special thanks to her friend and mentor Mary Ellen Chamberlin, president of the Riverboat Development Authority. Chamberlin blew a kiss to Roudebush from the audience.

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Other speakers included Ian Russell, president of the Friends of the Davenport Public Library.

John Schultz /Quad-City Times

Retiring Davenport Public Library Director Lawanda Roudebush receives well wishes from Dorothy Barchman and her husband, Walter, on Sunday during an open house and reception at the Fairmount Branch Library.

Retiring Davenport Library Director LaWonda Roudebush looks back at her husband, Peter, on Sunday during her retirement open house and party at the Fairmount Branch Library in Davenport. (John Schultz / Quad-City

Retiring Davenport Library Director Lawanda Roudebush reflects for a moment Sunday as Davenport Public Library Board of Trustees President Greg Lundgren recites her accomplishments during a retirement party at the Fairmount Branch Library. (John Schultz / Quad-City

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