The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

June 19, 2014

Athens man bequeaths $1M to library

By Kim West

— Athens-Limestone Public Library recently received an infusion of cash to augment a $6 million-plus capital project that is converting the former Kroger’s building into a sprawling new facility slated to open in October.

H. Edward Mitchell of Athens, who died Oct. 15, 2013, bequeathed $1 million of his estate to the library, Library Director Paula Laurita said. She described Mitchell’s gift as “selfless” and “a most welcome surprise to the Board of Trustees.”

“He was even more (of) a supporter than we knew, and we are so grateful for his life and his commitment to our library and the community,” she said.

Mitchell owned and operated the former Gilbert Drug Store for several years before selling it. He subsequently went to work for Tom and Doris Dean for 25 years at Limestone Drug Company in downtown Athens.

Doris Dean, a member of the library’s foundation board, said Mitchell kept the soda fountain from his drug store and brought it to Limestone Drugs.

“Ed was a good friend and a man with a generous nature. Tom always enjoyed his association with Ed, who was a reliable and beloved employee,” she said.

She said board members are mulling a plan for ways to use the donation, which was made directly to the library rather than its foundation.

Among needs for the library are books and materials, operation and program costs and construction of the renovated facility on South Jefferson Street. Laurita previously said she is hoping for an October grand opening for the new library.

She said the ongoing capital campaign by the foundation has been a success but additional community support is required to complete the building.

Laurita said Mitchell’s donation may prevent the foundation from having to tap its $1 million line-of-credit, which was secured last fall to act as a bridge loan between collected and outstanding pledges.

Estate gifts

Mitchell is among the charter members of the Southard Society, which recognizes people contributing $5,000 or more in planned estate gifts to the library. Southard Society members will be part of the major donor wall at the new library.

Estate gifts to the ALPL Foundation that are not otherwise designated will support the endowment for the library, helping it become more financially self-sufficient and less dependent on taxpayer support. 

“An estate gift is a very easy way that people can provide support to the Athens-Limestone Public Library, and assure that our citizens always have a library that fits the needs of the community,” Laurita said. “We are honored that Ed Mitchell chose to support our library with this generous gift.”

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