An Active Adult Community


Ed Robson Branch

When Sun Lakes was not very old as a little town in Maricopa County, the bookmobile was sent out every two weeks to give the citizens books and to order books that we would like to read.  These may or may not have been sent back two weeks later on the returned bookmobile.  At that time the civic center for Cottonwood was located in the old shopping center.  General meetings and all activities took place there.

In 1992 Ed Robson built the San Tan Ballroom which gave Phase II a permanent meeting area.  That left the civic space empty.  Mr. Robson turned the frontage into stores and gave the Library District a lease on 5400 square feet behind.  This is where our library officially started.  Frank Rodriguez was the first Head Librarian.  Immediately we established a Friend of the Library to do volunteer work and offer programs to Sum Lakes residents.  Our lease was for five years at $5400 a year.  About that time the Kidney Dialysis offered Mr. Robson a 10 year lease at considerable more income and we were out of space.

The Library District said we could use Hamilton Branch Library that had just been completed.  The Friends said that doesn’t help many who do not wish to drive out of Sun Lakes.  It was time for us to go to work, attend county meetings, talk to Fulton Brock, our Supervisor District I, and explore other places in Sun Lakes where a library could be housed.  The Health Clinic had just been built and we were able to lease a little over two thousand feet.  We could use the meeting room on the first floor for monthly meetings and used book sales.  The date of the opening was September 1, 1998. (Picture of opening ceremonies)

Even before the opening, the Friends had organized.  Cottonwood graciously allowed the second floor meeting room for numerous meetings.  The small original members were Bob Mills President, John Ockasi Vice-President, Joyce Norton Secretary-Treasurer, Members at large Janet Mills, Mable Walmsley, Gordon Mell and Pat Schneider.  To get us started raising money we asked all residents to donate $25 to help us start the campaign.  Each family that contributed was given a gold membership card.  We contacted Wes Davis to draw up 501c3 documents to make the donations charitable.  After much discussion not knowing if we could raise the money it was decided to name it The Sun Lakes Community Foundation so that the 501c3 could be used for another worthwhile purpose in Sun Lakes if wee weren’t successful.

In October 1998 Mr. Robson called Bob and Janet Mills into his office and offered us some land if we could raise the money by December 31, 2001.  On November 11 there was a meeting in the San Tan Ballroom to announce the gift of land.  On hundred and fifty residents were present.  Also attending were Carl Polan representing Mr. Robson.  In February 1999 the Foundation was making plans for the First annual meeting  to be held in March.  The President Bob Mills passed away.  The meeting was conducted by John Ockasi and after the meeting Janet Mills was elected President and held the office for two and a half years.

In fall of 1999 an eight member Board of Directors was elected which included VP Gordon Mell, Sec-Treasurer May-Jean Howard, Norma Buzan Building Chair, Harriet Harris Publicity and Recording Secretary, Penny Cerutti Grants Chairman, John Herndon Fund Raising Co-chair with John Ockasi.  In the fall Maryann Hawkins, Stan Olivier and Dan Ronberg became active members.  Many fund raisers were planned and carried out including a Macy’s fashion show and luncheon and raffle, a golf tournament at Springfield Lake’s Lone Tree golf course, the Agava Needlers Quilt Society raffled off a beautiful hand made quilt and later a giant teddy bear.  Also a tennis event at Oakwood with Mr. Robson and Woods playing and Basha sponsored a dinner and evening at the Museum.  The Splash gave us wonderful publicity.

In January 2001 the Carnegie Club was started to appreciate donors who gave $1,000 or more to the Foundation.  A list of naming opportunities was made out for anyone wishing to honor their family.  A reception was held at the Renaissance to kick it off.  More parties for this group were planned and were held at least once a year.  Jim Lecky gave $50,000 to have the all purpose room named after his parents.  An anonymous donor gave $20,000.  Other names are on a plaque in the library entrance hall.

By August the Foundation decided that we needed more help and the Rotary stepped in to help.  Paul Brown was elected President and many of the Rotarians including Dwight Grotewold and Jerry Holland.  A jazz band delighted residents as a fundraiser and a raffle for a new Cadillac was initiated.  The largest fundraiser was held at San Marcos.  Rex Allen was there to sing.  The Foundation had raised $600,000 by this time and plans were underway for starting the building.  Mr. Robson had given the Foundation an acre of land where the old ball park was located next to the Methodist Church.  It was decided to name it the Robson Branch of the Maricopa County Library for Mr. Robson’s wonderful gift of land valued at $500,000.

The ground breaking was set for February 11, 2003. (Picture of Ground Breaking) A reception was held in the Methodist Church Lindsay Hall.  Dwight Grotewold was the Master of Ceremonies.  In May 2004 the Library was dedicat4ed with an Open House on May 15, 2004.  Richard Henry, Jack Hawkins, and Fred Laver were so important to the building project.  A big 5thank you goes to all those that I haven’t named that know how much they helped with the fund raising and the building.

Since the opening in 2004 the library has continued to gain patrons about 12% a month.  We are the busiest small library in the system.  In 2009 we were refurbished with new carpeting squares, a larger office and most important the “Deweyless” system where books are shelved by category.  As residents we have a right to be proud of our Robson Branch of the Maricopa County Library.





*Cottonwood Palo Verde at Sun Lakes is an age 55 and older housing community in accordance with the Arizona and Federal Fair Housing Acts.