Olive’s Burgher is honored as Woman of Distinction

Rosalie Burgher

Rosalie Burgher

Rosalie Burgher, the retired Olive Free Library director who was awarded the Woman of Distinction Award for the 51st senate district at the 16th annual senate Women of Distinction ceremony at the state Capitol in Albany Tuesday, calls books, and libraries, a lifelong addiction.

“I grew up in Idaho and our town library, I remember, was under the police station and operated on a donations basis,” Burgher said Wednesday morning, following her big day. “I read the Elsie Dinsmore books, which had been printed in the 1800s. Later, when we moved to Boise, I think the first thing we all did as a family was get library cards there.”

Senator James Seward, the 51st’s representative and sponsor of Burgher’s award, said “Over the years, I have been fortunate to highlight a number of inspirational, trailblazing leaders through the senate’s Women of Distinction program, and this year is no different. Rosalie Burgher has been a driving force in the Olive community for the past six decades and shows no signs of slowing down. When I called to congratulate Rosalie on her selection as a ‘Woman of Distinction’ she wasn’t home. Instead, she was at the library hard at work — a typical day for her.”


Burgher, in addition to being involved in the early days of the Olive Free Library, back when a number of West Shokan residents figured a library would be the perfect entity to move into the local school building after Onteora consolidated 60 plus years ago, has long been a fixture with community organizations, including the PTA, the American Legion Auxiliary, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, and others.

But she herself admits that it was the library, and particularly her involvement raising funds for the new building’s completion some three decades ago. And it’s her love of books that has kept her working there, a minimum of ten hours a week, at the age of 86 now.

The senate’s “Woman of Distinction” program, created in 1998 to honor New York women who exemplify personal excellence, or whose professional achievements or acts of courage, selflessness, integrity or perseverance serve as an example to all New Yorkers, has previously honored professionals from the worlds of business, academics and civic life, as well as those who have performed heroic or selfless acts, made significant discoveries or provided examples of personal excellence against difficult odds.

“I’m still not sure I deserve this, but I am quite sure I won’t give it back,” Burgher noted, describing the May 7 ceremonies as “impressive and elegant.” “I feel I’m simply being honored for being an avid reader…something I tend to call ‘my addiction.”

Those in the Olive community wishing to celebrate Rosalie Burgher’s honor with her are invited to come to the Olive Free Library’s Community Room, located off Route 28A in West Shokan, 4 p.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, May 14. Senator Seward will be there…along with light refreshments.

For further information call the library at 657-2664 or visit www.olivefreelibrary.org.