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Donor name to be stripped from Penn Hills library

| Saturday, March 8, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Penn Hills Progress Marquis at the entrance to the William E. Anderson Library of Penn Hills.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Penn Hills Progress
Marquis at the entrance to the William E. Anderson Library of Penn Hills.

Penn Hills Council voted this week to remove the name of a late businessman and philanthropist from the library because his estate failed to follow through on a pledge worth $1.1 million.

William E. Anderson, who died in 2008 at 85, donated a site on Stotler Road for construction of the library and donated $360,000 from 2006 to 2008.

His estate subsequently donated $60,000 but nothing since 2012, Penn Hills municipal manager Mohammad Rayan said at Monday's council meeting. Anderson pledged a total of $1.1 million, in yearly payments of $110,000.

Council named the building — opened in 2007 — for him as the William E. Anderson Library. It replaced a library in Penn Hills.

“We appreciate everything the Anderson family has done and contributed to the library, but a lot of other Penn Hills residents have helped, too,” Rayan said at the meeting. “We felt it was appropriate at this time to rename the library after the community.”

Anderson's family did not return calls, but court records show his estate is tangled in lawsuits over business interests.

“That's the essence of it. William Anderson gave an initial amount, but because it's been several years and it does not look like the promises came to fruition, it probably needs to be renamed,” said Councilman J. LaVon Kincaid. “We did pass a resolution to rename it the Penn Hills Library.”

The Rev. Frank DeLuce, senior pastor of Unity Church in Plum where Anderson was a lifelong member, disagreed with stripping Anderson's name from the library. DeLuce said Anderson was a generous man, including to his church.

“I don't think it's the right thing to do. He gave a significant amount of money to the library. To chastise him when his motives were pure? He was the catalyst in getting the thing off the ground. It's terrible,” DeLuce said. “It's disrespecting his memory and him as a person because they didn't get all the money he intended.”

It's unclear how much it will cost to pry Anderson's name from the brick marquee or how the failed pledges affected the library's finances.

Judy Donohue, president of the library advisory board, referred financial questions to library staff.

“It's too bad because there's a wall plaque with his name on it, too,” Donohue said.

Rayan did not return calls for comment on Friday, nor did library director Tyrone Ward. Other council members, including Mayor Anthony DeLuca, did not return calls for comment.

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