Dee Addonizio knows full well the unpredictable path on which life can take you. Working in a library wasn’t on Ms. Addonizio’s radar back when she attended Christ the King High School in Queens. No, she was thinking about something else entirely different at the time.
“When I was younger, I wanted to be a nun,” she said, explaining that “most of the girls in a Catholic school wanted to be a nun.”
Then, as can often happen, circumstances and plans changed. The woman who grew up in Woodhaven, Queens, moved, called eastern Long Island home and embarked on a 36-plus-year career working at Cutchogue New Suffolk Library. Ms. Addonizio, 69 (and a half), had figured that when she turned 70 it might be time to retire, but given the uncertainties associated with the coronavirus pandemic, she decided to press the fast-forward button on retirement.
“I figured, why not now?” she said. “What am I waiting six months for?”
It was around the start of December when Ms. Addonizio, a circulation staff member, announced that she was stepping down. Her last day on the job was Dec. 31.
Ms. Addonizio said her time at the library has been “very special to me because the patrons are wonderful. It’s like having neighbors all over the place, you know. You see them all over town and everything. It’s been very special, very special staff.”
Library director Rosemary Winters recalled her reaction upon hearing the news from Ms. Addonizio. “I just felt shocked,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh! This is the end of an era.’ ”
Ms. Winters said Ms. Addonizio’s rapport with patrons and staff is something that cannot be taught and is inherent to her nature.
“Dee has been the face of the library for as long as I can possibly remember,” Ms. Winters said. “When you walk into the library, there’s always a sense of warmth and a smiling, shining face and she has a wonderful rapport with patrons. I really think she is the library, and that’s going to be sorely missed by myself and I think all of the community.”
Ms. Addonizio attended a secretarial school, Katharine Gibbs School in Manhattan, before working for AT&T for about six years. She and her husband, Faust, with whom she’ll celebrate a 50th anniversary next year, moved to Riverhead in 1975. Two years later they moved to Cutchogue, where they raised three children (Matt, Andrew and Cari Ann) and currently reside.
The family experienced some excitement when one of those children, Andrew, was born in the family home after Ms. Addonizio became convinced the baby wasn’t going to wait until they drove to the hospital in Southampton.
“It made the newspapers,” said Ms. Addonizio, who claimed Andrew was the first baby ever delivered by the Cut-ch-ogue Fire Department.
Cutchogue New Suffolk Library was granted a provisional charter and first opened with a staff of volunteers on Sept. 16, 1915. It currently has a staff of 17, said Ms. Winters.
What are Ms. Addonizio’s retirement plans?
“The first thing I am going to do is take my dogs for long walks,” answered the early riser, who typically awakes at 4:30 or 5 a.m.
Beyond that, it’s tough to say what the future holds for her because of the pandemic.
“Everything’s on hold right now,” she said. “We were planning in the past for the future, but right now those plans …”
High on the list, though, is once again seeing her two grandchildren, Shelby and Cash, who both live out of state.
As for her time at the library, Ms. Addonizio said: “I just feel very blessed to have worked here, the friends, the staff of the library … It’s unbelievable people. I’m very, very lucky.”