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Two local writers join ranks of authors helping Oaklawn Hospital Auxiliary

MARSHALL – Two local writers recently placed their books on the shelves of Oaklawn Hospital’s gift shop, joining a growing list of regional authors who’ve been making their publications available there.

Newly offered for sale at the shop are two books by Marshall authors:

– “When They Died, Where Did They Go?” by Janet O’Connell. The 20-page, large-format paperback sells for $12.45 plus tax and is published by WestBow Press. The book was written to help children cope with a loved one’s death. The book includes color illustrations by John McNees.

– “Anna Meets the Sock Stealer,” by Peggy Grigowski and illustrated in color and black-and-white by Darren Wheeling. The 109-page paperback sells for $8.49 plus tax and is published by Wynwidyn Press. It tells a tale for readers ages 6 to 9 about the adventures of a young girl with the Sock Stealer and his sock-eating buddies.

Each writer has agreed to donate a portion of their proceeds to the Oaklawn Hospital Auxiliary.

O’Connell said her book is designed to comfort children who have experienced loss through the death of a family member.

“I created the book to help children deal with grief through their faith,” she said. “Parents sometimes don’t have the words to help their children through the grieving process. Having lost so many family members at a young age and, as an adult having lost a child to SIDS, I recognized that there needs to be something for parents to help them find the right words.”

All three of O’Connell’s children were born at Oaklawn. Two of them – Ryan and Brendon – are now adults. Her “middle son,” Colin, was a victim of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

“My faith helped me through the grieving process and I wanted to fill in the gaps,” O’Connell said. “I felt there weren’t any books out there to help young children deal with that process in a positive way.”

O’Connell taught elementary school for more than 30 years and has been recognized by “Who’s Who in Education.”  Outskirts Press recently published her latest book for children, “The ABC’s of God’s Love,” available via

“I do think Oaklawn Hospital is a wonderful hospital,” she said, explaining why she is donating a portion of the book’s proceeds. “It seemed like a great match.”

“Oaklawn Hospital is great,” agreed Grigowski, who was born at the hospital in 1963. “The doctors, nurses and staff, are amazing.”

Grigowski grew up in the Albion-Marshall area and discovered her talent for writing as a third-grader. She and her husband Gary have four adult children. She also has good reason to support the hospital in view of a close call in 2004.

“I had what I thought was a simple stomach cramp and my husband made me come in,” she said. “My appendix was about to burst, so the hospital, the doctor and the quick-thinking staff  saved my life.

“We have an amazing hospital and I’m very supportive,” she said.

Grigowski’s other books include “The Business of Home Day Care,” which is no longer in circulation. Publication of her first adult novel – “A Glimpse of What If” – is expected later this year.

Oaklawn’s gift shop recently has featured several books written by local authors. The following books no longer are sold at the gift shop, but may be purchased from the authors individually:

– “Gone to God: A Civil War Family’s Ultimate Sacrifice,” by Keith Kehlbeck of Marshall.
– “Memoirs of a Country Schoolteacher,” by Beverly Haskins Reyner of Quincy.
– “Dottie – Raccoon Tales,” by Linda Crawford of Union City.
– “How to Get the Job: Enhance Your Career or Start Your Own Business,” by Douglas C. Mead of Marshall.
– “Oinga Boingas Oh My!” by Diana Sullivan of Marshall.
– “Feelings from the Heart, Whispers of the Spirit,” by Tom Jones of Marshall.

The gift shop staff is encouraging other local authors to make their books available at the gift shop, said Kyle Ann Keller, Oaklawn’s development coordinator. She may be contacted at (269) 789-3903.