It is with great sorrow that I write this letter on behalf of the board of the John Jermain Memorial Library acknowledging the passing of Jeanette Sarkisian Wagner.
Jeanette was a generous woman on every level. She gave her time and expertise to the things she believed in — and she believed in Sag Harbor, so there are many organizations that mourn her this week.
I saw Jeanette as a mentor. It was Jeanette who convinced me to run for the library’s board of trustees. Many other women looked to Jeanette as a guide for their careers, philanthropy and lives. She never let you stay safely in your comfort zone when there was a challenge just outside.
The legacy left by Jeanette and her late husband, Paul, are visible all over our library. There is the Wagner Children’s Library, the first named space in the library, given before the plans for the renovation and expansion were finalized. Jeanette and Paul loved kids, especially the loud, laughing ones. They both felt strongly that providing children with great books would help them become great people.
Then there is the Wagner Scholar’s Study, a small room off the rotunda dedicated as a place to advance learning. Every Thursday (pre-COVID) the JJML Writers Group met to share progress on different projects. As a member of this group, I appreciated the cozy room, where it was safe to experiment as a writer.
And the jewel of JJML programming, the Jeanette Sarkisian Wagner Teen Writing Program. Scores of Pierson students benefited from this program and honed their skills as writers. The program inspired and encouraged nascent writers to try a variety of genres from poetry to graphic novels.
Two of the present board members, myself and Bill McCoy, watched our children grow into strong communicators at Teen Writing. Former board member Nick Knab, who is presently working toward a master’s in library sciences, was a graduate of the program.
We are lucky Teen Writing will continue, as a legacy to Jeanette. She told me that her favorite event was in the spring when the students would read their best writings. Jeanette was excited to meet the young authors and see them at the start of their journeys. She was confident that what they learned each week would not only feed their creativity but turn them into scholars. And to Jeanette there was no greater achievement than to be scholar.
Jeanette inspired and supported great programs, at JJML and elsewhere in Sag Harbor. We owe her so much.
Farewell, Jeanette, and thank you.
Board of Trustees
John Jermain Memorial Library
One fine body…