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SANTA ANA | Community News Focus

Her Library Support Is Writ Large

March 04, 1997|JEFF KASS

For 16 years, 88-year-old Nell Dempster has donated whatever she could spare to the city's library system.

She usually received a brief thank-you letter.

But Monday night, the City Council presented Dempster with a certificate for her efforts, which have brought in a total of $12,500 over the years, or about $780 a year. The money has been used to buy some 625 large-print books for those who have trouble seeing.

"She's a neat lady," library director Rob Richard said. "She's got a big heart."

Dempster, who is widowed, said she and her former husband were concerned with people who are blind or have trouble seeing because they both had aunts who suffered from blindness. The couple also donated to the American Institute for the Blind in New York and the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, Ky., she said.

The longtime county resident, who manages a family avocado and orange ranch in unincorporated Orange County, now continues the donations.

Dempster herself has glaucoma but said she is able to see fine because of special eyedrops. But she knows that not everyone her age is so fortunate.

"So many elderly people can't see," she said.

Although Dempster does not need the large-print books she donates, she does use the library's shut-in service, which delivers books to those who cannot easily leave their homes.

Dempster plows through about 15 books a month. Her favorites are autobiographies and biographies.

Dempster said she got hooked on reading as a young girl, when she was raised by an aunt who was an avid reader.

"It's just fascinating," Dempster said of reading. "I just learn so much."

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