Huge gift benefits library, center
- Matthew Sherman
- Lake Oswego Review - News
For years, employees at the Lake Oswego Public Library watched an elderly woman quietly stroll into the building on Fourth and D and take her time browsing books. She was one of the library's regular patrons, checking out books with great regularity and stopping by multiple times a week.
But, unlike many of the routine visitors to the library, she kept to herself, only exchanging casual pleasantries with the attendants at the front desk. The library employees recognized her when she stopped by but, for the most part, knew very little about her.
Now, however, it is unlikely that anyone at the library, or at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center, will ever forget Ellouise Minter.
Minter, a resident of Lake Oswego for 17 years, died on May 3 at the age of 98. A few weeks later, Library Volunteer Coordinator Cyndie Glazer received a phone call.
As it turned out, Minter, the sole surviving trustee of the Eugene and Ellouise Minter Living Trust, had it stipulated that her entire estate be left to the Lake Oswego Public Library and the Lake Oswego Adult Com-munity Center.
'It was amazing. When it was being explained to me, I was stunned. It was the most amazing phone call I've ever received,' Glazer said.
Gifts given to the library and the ACC from estates are not entirely uncommon. In the past, individuals have willed small amounts of money to the endowment funds. But what made this particular gift so unique was its enormity.
In all, it is estimated that the market value of the Minter's estate was worth $2.5 million at the time of her death, including stock holdings and personal property.
'She was a very frugal gal. She's the kind of person who kept things boxed up but she was great. She had a lot of spunk and a lot of strong opinions,' said lawyer David Aveson, who worked with Minter and has been helping to sort out the distribution of funds.
All of Minter's belongings were left to be split evenly between the library and the community center.
The money will be put into both facilities' endowment funds where the principal income can be used for capital expenditures while the interest accumulated may be used to enhance services, materials, equipment or services.
'It's very exciting. One of my big wishes was that, one day, a gift like this would be given to us,' said Debra Carline the ACC's program manager.
The Lake Oswego City Council approved the use of these funds in its most recent meeting Tuesday.
Ellouise and Eugene Minter moved to Lake Oswego in 1989 from Santa Cruz, Calif. Eugene was involved in theater and managed a television station, produced commercials and taught drama before dying in 1994.
Ellouise wrote, taught and volunteered wherever she could. She served on the board of the Friends of the Library and also volunteered at the community center.
At the ACC, Minter implemented and taught a class called 'Reading to Share,' which is still in existence and she participated in many of the center's program's as well.
'We had the privilege of getting to know (Ellouise) and could build that bond. She was such a giver and had a good heart,' Carline said.
Minter was also a fixture at the library, enhancing her love of books.'She used the library a lot and checked out books all the time but she was a very private person. We went over to her apartment and it was filled with books. She loved to read,' Glazer said.
The couple moved to Oregon and settled into Mary's Woods to be closer to their only daughter, who lived on the Oregon Coast. That daughter preceded Ellouise in death and did not have children, leaving no heirs to inherit the estate.
The Minters set up the living trust and Ellouise felt that the two institutions that she frequented most in Lake Oswego were deserving of the gift.
'The trust was set up in the early 90s to benefit their daughter and then (after she died) it was changed to go to the library and the LOACC,' Aveson said.
Currently, officials at the library and the community center are unsure of what to do with their sudden windfall. Not surprisingly, the donation is the largest that either organization has ever received.
'Our management team is discussing how to use the money. It's really a complete surprise,' Glazer said.
According to Glazer, the Lake Oswego Public Library, which has long been rated as one of the best libraries in the state and has been ranked first in the state by the Hapler rating system for three years in a row, will undoubtedly be able to enhance its top-notch facilities.
'Things like this should happen to the library more often,' Glazer said.
Staff at both the library and the community center are discussing ways in which to use the funds and ways to honor the couple whose generosity has helped their futures immensely.