Wednesday, August 16, 2006

In Memoriam -- Don Churchill

My earliest recollection of Don Churchill is at a City Council meeting in 1978. I was there as a fairly new librarian to try to understand library issues and local politics. Don and Berta Churchill were there as Co-Presidents of the Friends of the Appleton Library, to advocate for construction of a new library facility. It was the first of many times I would sit and discuss library issues with Berta and Don. During their presidency, FOAL led a successful referendum campaign for library construction, resulting in the dedication of the new building in 1981.

Don not only served as Co-President of FOAL, but headed both the Library Board of Trustees and the Appleton Library Foundation Board. In FOAL, Berta had a more visible role – the old FOAL scrapbooks have many pictures of Berta but few of Don, but he was there, staying involved and keeping things in perspective with his gentle humor. He went on to serve on the Library Board from 1983 to 1991. Berta followed him on the Board from 1991 to 1994. By then Don was serving on the Library Foundation Board, where he helped create the endowment fund and develop policies and priorities. Don took a leadership role in the Library Foundation’s efforts to secure the Library Plaza in 1996, working with the City and donors. He remained on the Foundation Board until 1999.

For over twenty years, Don was a leader in volunteering his time for the library. In his work with the Foundation, he was able to help the library realize some of the vision Berta had advocated on the Board and in FOAL, helping develop an active adult programming and community development component in library service. After Berta’s death in 2000, Don and his family donated the “Dancing Curves” sculpture that stands outside the library entrance in her memory. He remained a regular library visitor and Foundation supporter. Library staff and supporters, as well as many in the community, were saddened by Don's death this past June. We’ll miss Don as we do Berta, but the gifts they’ve given us will remain and touch lives in this community for many years to come.

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