Coupeville’s ‘ultimate volunteer’ passes away

Janet Enzmann was a popular figure in Coupeville where her volunteer efforts made the town better in many ways. - submitted image
Janet Enzmann was a popular figure in Coupeville where her volunteer efforts made the town better in many ways.
— image credit: submitted image

Janet Enzmann, one of Coupeville’s valued volunteers, passed away Monday, Aug 16. She was 84.

Among other groups, Enzmann was chairman of Friends of Coupeville Library, archivist and librarian with the Island County Museum and volunteer with the Coupeville Lion’s Club.

A former librarian who moved to Coupeville from Seattle, Enzmann gravitated to the Coupeville Library right away, said her daughter, Heidi Ontiveros.

“She hadn’t been there but a few months when she called me and said she was a Friend of the Library and had started the book sale,” Ontiveros said.

Besides volunteering and organizing the old library, the temporary library and the new library, Enzmann oversaw the construction of a new storage shed for the used books created by the Central Whidbey Lions in 2008. She regained some space in her garage where she had been storing the books but she always had books in her garage dating back to when she started the book sale on two shelves in the back of the library.

Coupeville Library Branch Manager Leslie Franzen was a friend and colleague of Enzmann and said she was an absolute lover of books and cats.

In fact a beautiful, cast-bronze cat named Jake sits on a custom table inside the entrance to the Coupeville Library.

Jake, a coon cat, was commissioned and created by Clinton bronze artist Georgia Gerber as a tribute for Janet Enzmann in early April of 2010. Its head is already getting the bronze rubbed dull.

“She was the ultimate community volunteer giving back to the place that she loved,” said Franzen. “Janet was also incredibly organized ... she lived her life the way she wanted.”

Born in Springfield, Mass., Enzmann eventually moved to Coupeville in 1991 and began volunteering.

Besides the library, Island County Historical Society and Lions, Enzmann was also on the League of Woman Voters and founded the Whidbey Island Genealogical Society, or WHIGS.

Her efforts organizing the Island County Historical Society was so great that her photo hangs on the stairs and they have flown their flag at half-staff, as has the Town of Coupeville.

Her friend Marilyn Engel worked with her at the different book sales and said she was always concerned about others.

“Even at the end when she was in the process of dying, she was more concerned about people than herself,” Engel said. “And she had a list of books she realized she wasn’t going to be able to read, but we laughed at it.”

Engel also said Enzmann was miffed that she wouldn’t be able to attend the Harry Potter Exhibit at the Pacific Science Center, but they laughed at that also.

“I’m going to miss her something awful,” Engel said.

Enzmann’s daughter, Ontiveros, said her mother loved to laugh.

“She was a real personality and was really funny,” Ontiveros said. “Not loud or anything, just really funny.”

Enzmann died after a prolonged battle with colon cancer.

Donations in her memory can be sent to the Friends of the Coupeville Library at P.O. Box 745 or the Island County Historical Museum at P.O. Box 305, Coupeville WA 98239.

An obituary can be found on page A7 of today’s Whidbey News-Times.

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