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Donation illustrates woman's love of reading

| Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006

To say that Mary Ellen Lewis loved books is an understatement. The late Mt. Lebanon resident had books in every room of her Morrison Drive home.

"Some books were carefully shelved in book cases, some in drawers, some stacked on the furniture and on the floor and some in boxes," recalled Downtown-based attorney Samuel L. Douglass, executor of Lewis' estate.

It's not surprising, then, that Lewis bequeathed about $100,000 from her estate to the Mt. Lebanon Public Library. The first $80,000 of the money, Douglass said, was presented to the library in 2004. The remainder -- $24,200 -- was presented last month.

"Mrs. Lewis was an avid reader with eclectic interests," library director Cynthia Richey said. "She loved books and reading and enjoyed reading all sorts of things. She enjoyed book review programs that the library offered to the community."

Lewis, who died on June 14, 2004, at age 83, graduated from Iowa State University with a home economics degree in the early 1940s. She and husband, Bill, moved to Pittsburgh and purchased their Mt. Lebanon home in 1948. They had one child, who preceded her parents in death.

"Mary Ellen and her daughter, Linda, loved books," Douglass said. "They would be truly impressed to see people standing in line for the opening of the Mt. Lebanon Library at 9 o'clock in the morning."

Richey said the money from the bequest went to a library endowment fund that is used for books and programming, such as bringing authors to speak.

The Mt. Lebanon Public Library relies on donations for approximately 25 percent of its collection and nearly all of its programs, she said.

"We continue to be deeply touched by this generous bequest, as it will help the library fund for the future," Richey said.

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