Williamsport lost a shining member of its community on Tuesday with the death of Mary Lib Stockwell.
Born in 1922, in a time when women's opinions often were dismissed or looked down upon, Stockwell became a major force in the development of downtown Williamsport. She spearheaded the Community Arts Center project, sat on numerous boards, served as president of the Junior League and ran a small business, all while finding time to be a dedicated wife and loving mother.
"She was a giant, and we stand in her shadow," said William Martin, senior vice president of Pennsylvania College of Technology, who worked with Stockwell during the rebuilding of the Community Arts Center.
"The arts in this community would not be what they are today without her vision - First Friday, the Pajama Factory - none of that would have come about without Mary Lib helping us to realize how the arts can revolutionize a community," he added.
Friends say what they remember the most about Stockwell is not the savvy business woman and force for community betterment, it's the kind, generous friend who made everyone around her feel accepted and included.
"That's what a true leader does, they set everyone at ease and make everyone's input feel welcome," said Joyce Hershberger, who was a member of the Junior League during Stockwell's presidency.
Her husband, retired banker Harold D. Hershberger Jr., agreed: "The thing about Mary Lib that always stuck in my mind is this - she said that if you were in a social situation you had a responsibility to be gracious and involved with the people that surrounded you.
"I think that was a lot of her driving force - she wanted to make her community a more pleasant place to be," he added.
One of the ways in which Stockwell lived up to her personal beliefs was by taking the lead on the Community Arts Center.
It was she who first approached Penn College and asked it to partner with the City of Williamsport and Williamsport-Lycoming Foundation to purchase the then-crumbling Capitol Theatre in order to restore it to its former glory.
"She re-imagined the theater as a center for community arts. I don't believe that project would have gotten off the ground without her," Martin said.
He remembers touring the theater with Stockwell, when it still was being reconstructed.
"It is a very touching memory for me, walking around the theater with her and seeing this great vision start to become a real-life asset to the community," Martin said.
She was the first person to receive the Vision Award from the Community Arts Center Board of Directors. Martin, who sat on the board during that time, felt the honor was fitting.
"Nobody should have received that award before Mary Lib," he said. "Nobody did more to see that place come to life."
Stockwell's other accomplishments were numerous.
She was a board member and volunteer for the Lycoming United Way, the first woman to be appointed to the board of the Williamsport Foundation on Arts Council, a board member of the Scholarship Committee for Little League, a board member for the Crippled Childrens' Society and the longest dues-paying member of the Williamsport Country Club.