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Reading program gets boost from 'Friend'

Proceeds from sale of longtime library lover's home t fund summer series for children
By: Martha Garcia, Colfax Record Editor
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When area children take part in the Colfax Library’s children’s reading program this summer, the program will carry the name of the benefactor whose gift has recently been announced.

The 2013 Geraldine Wales Summer Reading Program – sponsored by the Friends of the Colfax Library ­– will be funded by proceeds from the sale of Wales’ property and home located above Alta.

Pauline Nevins, of the FOL, said Wales was a vivacious, colorful character and an enthusiastic member of the Friends of the Colfax Library who openly shared her personal triumphs and circumstances.

According to Nevins, FOL members Heidi Johnson, Sharon Gieras, Charlene McShane and Irene Pollock – a past president who died in December 2011 – spent a great deal of their time and traveled at their own expense to numerous meetings with attorneys and court hearings, as well as handling real-estate transactions.

Nevins said that with professional assistance and guidance from Teri Andrews-Murch, of Lyon Realty, the property was sold in 2012. After all financial obligations and transactions were completed, the Friends of the Colfax received a check for $6,296.80.

As an FOL volunteer, Wales helped with fundraisers, including the monthly used book sale. On one occasion, Wales revealed she had been diagnosed with cancer, then announced, Nevins recalls, “I’m going to put the FOL in my will; I’m going to leave them my house.”

Nevins said, “We were all shocked at that and changed the subject quickly. We tried to reassure her that she was going to get well. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.” Although the cancer did go into remission at one point, Wales became ill again and she passed away Nov. 27, 2010.

Heidi Johnson, of Dutch Flat, volunteered with Wales not only with the Colfax FOL but also in Dutch Flat.

“She was a really good volunteer … she’d moved out here from Philadelphia … she was semi-retired,” Johnson said. “She was a volunteer at the Dutch Flat Community Center and on the 4th of July. I could always rely on her. Whenever I needed somebody, she helped.”

Johnson said Wales was also “quite a character. It’s the way she was so open and honest, she … was someone who wore her heart on her sleeve.”

Wales was very excited about being involved in the FOL and certain about her decision to leave her house to the FOL. Johnson said Wales had made the statement: “They know exactly what I want.”

It was “Geri’s dying wish,” Johnson said, “that the FOL be a beneficiary of her estate. I think it’s really cool that the kids’ summer reading program will be named in her honor. I think that she would love that.”

Wales worked great with the kids, Johnson said, “She was young at heart with her enthusiasm.”

Sharon Gieras, another FOL member, said she, too was amazed that someone would make such a gift to the FOL.

“It ended up being a nice thing,” Gieras said, “It’s something if people want to do that, especially in a small town like this, it’s very helpful.”

Nevins said the Gerald Wales Summer Reading Program will also include special events to honor Wales and her generosity. “Colfax and the surrounding communities will have an opportunity to attend these events and show their appreciation for this very thoughtful gift from a very generous woman,” she said.

According to Nevins, Wales had prepared her own will and there were many complications. She urges anyone planning to make a similar charitable contribution to the Friends of the Colfax Library to first contact Gunda Pramuk, Colfax Library manager, at 346-8211.