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A Love of Reading Translates to Large Cash Gift to Library

September 26, 1996|NICK GREEN

Lucille Wigley's husband, Earl, loved reading at the Fillmore Library.

In fact, the liquor store owner enjoyed browsing the stacks so much before his death in the 1980s that Lucille remembered the library when she died in January 1995.

She bequeathed the library her entire estate, valued at valued at $424,985.

"He came often," said Wanda Haynes, the Wigleys' longtime next-door neighbor and executor of the homemaker's estate. "He had a passion for learning all about things, and she thought he was the smartest man in the world."

Curiously, Lucille herself never used the library, preferring to play bridge, Haynes said.

But on Tuesday, a plaque and a resolution from the Board of Supervisors, marking what is believed to be the largest cash gift ever to the county library system, were presented to library staff.

The money was placed in an endowment fund and the $22,000 in interest it has generated will be used by the Fillmore Library to purchase books and other materials.

The money comes just in time for Fillmore, which like most county library branches has seen its book budget drop precipitously. The budget fell from $13,000 last year to a mere $873 this year. Each of the four other medium-size libraries in the county have received similar budget reductions, librarians said.

"What we're doing is paying for the [$13,000 worth of] books and magazines we would have lost," said Bernadette McDowell, library supervisor. "Last year when we were sort of waiting for the interest to accrue, I was thinking, 'Wow, we're going to have all of this extra money to spend' and it didn't quite pan out that way. But it's still more money than we would have gotten."

The extra $9,000 will be enough to purchase additional children's books and allow the library to become the first in the system to offer borrowers CD-ROMs. But, for instance, it probably won't be sufficient to buy a microfiche machine and transfer the library's rotting collection of bound Fillmore Herald's dating back to 1916 to film before they are lost forever.

Still, the gift from a couple who had lived quietly in Fillmore since 1938 and had no children is unlikely to be forgotten.

"It's very gratifying that someone recognizes the value of the library to someone very dear to them and gave a tangible expression of their gratefulness," Supervisor Maggie Kildee said. "Somehow we have to find a way in which we all share in the funding of a library."

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