Loyal Patron Leaves Library $150,000 Gift

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Associated Press

Edith Stone stopped to read at the tiny county library branch almost every day. And when she died at 95, she left behind a gift--an estate valued at $150,000.

The library, which is sometimes so crowded that people read while standing in the aisle, plans to use the money to expand. The estate is the largest gift ever to a branch library in Alameda County.

The library, designed three decades ago to house 20,000 volumes, is home to 40,000 books, records and magazines. It checks out 160,000 books a year--about 10 for each of the 15,000 residents of this city on the east side of San Francisco Bay.


Stone, who walked five miles a day, used to read at the library almost every day as she made her way up Solano Avenue, stopping for ice cream and coffee as she went. She often walked to the Albany branch and then hiked to the Berkeley branch, a mile away.

But the librarians didn’t know that she was planning to leave the Albany branch everything she had when she died. They found out when she died last summer. On Jan. 2, they found out what it was worth.

The probate court turned over her entire estate: proceeds from her house, a coin collection, silver, savings bonds, old photos--even the fur-trimmed coat she wore to the library.

“She once said she learned to read at a young age from her mother, and wanted to help others learn to read young,” said neighbor Michael Halderman, executor of Stone’s will.

“She thought if young people in high school had more access to reading, it would help them decide what careers to pursue.”

According to Halderman, Stone was born in Boston and was well-educated. She worked as an office manager until she was nearly 80. She married, but her husband, William, died in 1931. There were no children.


“Everyone here remembers her vividly,” said librarian Ronnie Davis, who agreed the library needs to expand. “But Albany is not a rich town and it was not imaginable to raise money.”