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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 3, 2010

Maui Friends of the Library gets largest gift ever

The Maui News

KAHULUI, Maui - The largest gift in the history of the Maui Friends of the Library, $245,000, has been received from the estate of Bruce Staiger, a Maui retiree from New Jersey, who left the organization $205,000 along with an earlier donation of $40,000 from his wife, Anne, at the time of her death.

Dorothy Tolliver, the group's president, said: "Our libraries have many needs right now with the economic downturn, and we are so grateful to have been remembered in this estate."

The Staigers also were generous donors to Maui Memorial Medical Center and to the free library in Southhold, N.J., where Bruce Staiger was a memorable high school teacher.

The announcement was made at a joint meeting of the library managers who serve Maui County's eight public library branches, State Librarian Robert Burns and the Maui Friends of the Library, which traces its origin to 1912, the same year the first public library opened in Wailuku.

Tolliver said the Maui Friends group plans to use these and other donated funds to address high priority needs as identified by the Maui County public libraries that cannot be funded due to the current government revenue crisis.

"While staffing and furlough days are key concerns of Maui librarians and patrons, technology, equipment, books, periodicals, media supplies, library programming, bookmobile, building upkeep, staff development and college scholarships for library and information graduate students are equally important and will continue to be considered for funding by the Friends," Tolliver said.

The Staigers lived in Kihei and often used the library there. Bruce Staiger died in 2005 at the age of 87. He was not forgotten. Earlier this year, one of his former students died at age 67, and his friends described him as "a great dancer, cook, storyteller, model train enthusiast, beach bum, luxury car aficionado and class pet in Bruce Staiger's history class," still a standout memory from half a century earlier.

Bruce Staiger was a Marine veteran of World War II who went to college on the G.I. Bill and was, in 1949, the first person to be given the Louis Pelzer Memorial Award for the best essay in American history by a graduate student, "Abolitionism and the Presbyterian Schism of 1837-1838."

Twenty years before his death, the couple funded the C. Bruce & Anne Staiger Endowment at Maui Memorial to fund cardiovascular services in perpetuity. That fund, $305,000, came to the hospital recently, just as MMMC is inaugurating its heart health surgical center.

"The timing of receiving this generous gift is unbelievable" said Wesley Lo, the hospital's chief executive officer. "We are so thankful and grateful that the Staigers were philanthropic and visionaries to identify cardiovascular as the program to support with this gift."

The gift to the friends also comes at just the time when the libraries are facing unusual financial challenges.

The Maui Friends of the Library raises funds through donations of money and used books that are sold at its bookstore in Puunene. The store is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Most books at the store, about 180,000 volumes, sell for 10 cents each. The bookstore is entirely staffed by volunteers.

"Our bookstore needs lots of volunteers," Tolliver said. She urged anyone interested in volunteering two to three hours a month or more, at the store or at libraries, to call 871-6563 or John Tryggestad at 268-5773.

She said schedules can be worked out for part-time residents as well as those who live on Maui and want to become involved. For more information, visit www.maui.net/~mfol/.