There is a new, bittersweet chapter to Margie Hafer's love of children and reading.
Hafer's friends and relatives have dedicated a Little Free Library in Cottage Grove and a second one in Woodbury in honor of Hafer, who died of cancer in December.
Hafer's family said it's a perfect tribute to a woman who spent 23 years as an early childhood teacher in South Washington County Schools' ECFE program, mostly at Central Park in Woodbury.
Hafer continued to teach after her 1989 diagnosis of medullary thyroid cancer, which she fought for years, including with nine surgeries, before it spread and took her life at age 56.
"She devoted her life to children and to teaching children," John Hafer said on Saturday as he and others opened the libraries.
One library is in Susan Sundeen's front yard at 9137 92nd St., Cottage Grove. Sundeen and Hafer worked together.
"The love of reading — what a way to share it," Sundeen said.
The second library is in the backyard of Hafer's daughter Teri York's Woodbury home. At 8813 Rainier Court, York's property backs up to Interlachen Parkway, where families walk to get to Central Park and the R.H. Stafford Library. York said it's a great location to share children's books.
York credited Hafer's co-workers and other teachers with raising the $800 used to fund the libraries.
John Hafer, who installed the pre-assembled libraries, said his wife had a few passions: her family and children, birds and Cape Cod beaches. The libraries reflect that. The one outside Sundeen's home is painted yellow with blue birds. A Cape Cod and sandcastle theme was painted on the library in York's backyard.
Launched several years ago in Hudson, Wis., the Little Free Library network has spread across the world. Often located in residential front yards, the little libraries allow people to donate and take books and other reading materials free of charge. Numerous little libraries are located throughout south Washington County.
"This is a way for kids and parents to enjoy a book together," said Hafer's friend Mary Owen.