HEMLOCK, Mich. — A city in central Michigan is getting a new $2.8 million library thanks to an unexpected donation from a couple’s estate.
“We did not know they were going to leave their estate. It was a complete surprise to us,” said BillieJo Bluemer, the director of Rauchholz Memorial Library, Hemlock’s 75-year-old library. “The whole process of building began because a local couple, James and Mary Jean Foye, left us 40 percent of their estate, which was a little over $923,000.”
She said the couple frequently visited the library and wanted the estate to be used to build and maintain a new facility.
The Morley Foundation of Saginaw recently donated $10,000 to the new building capitol campaign, which helps the library reach the goal of $2.8 million. Bluemer said the library is planning for the building to be more than 10,000 square feet, which is double the size of the current library.
Bluemer said the new library will pay tribute to the Foyes in the adult section of the reading room by displaying their names and pictures.
“We would like to be able to build by next spring,” she said. “We have until the end of this year to raise additional funding.”
The library has so far raised more than $1.4 million in donations. Some other donors are Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation, Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, Dow Corning Advisory Fund, Hemlock Semiconductor and Rick Ford in Hemlock.
“If it wasn’t for that seed money that they (the Foyes) left the library we’re building, we would not be doing what we’re doing right now and this wouldn’t even be discussed,” Bluemer said. “It was because of their donation of their estate that set all this in motion.”
Mary Jean Foye died in November 2013 and James died some years earlier.