4/17/2017 6:45:00 AM Retired Hauser teacher leaves millions to Brown County library
From Bob Gustin Friends of the Brown County Public Librar
NASHVILLE, Ind. - When a retired southern Indiana teacher died three years ago, he left more than $2.3 million to the Brown County Public Library. It is the largest gift ever made to the library.
Tesh Wickard made the library in Nashville part of his morning routine. Most mornings he could be found sprawled in a comfortable chair near the fireplace at library, reading newspapers and magazines or chatting with friends.
"Tesh valued the importance a library plays in the community. This kind gesture is a gift to all of Brown County, not just the library," said Stori Snyder, director of the library.
Wickard taught business at Hauser High School for most of his career.
Wickard established an endowment which is set up so that only interest earned on the money can be used, the principal is never touched, and the funds will be ongoing. Spending of the funds will be the responsibility of the public library board of trustees, with oversight from the Wickard endowment board. One of the first projects planned is to modernize and revamp the checkout area at the front of the library.
The gift will be celebrated 1:30-3:30 p.m. April 23 at the library, with a presentation scheduled for 2 p.m. Light refreshments will be served, and everyone is invited to attend.
"Tesh Wickard's gift builds on the history of generosity from the community that allowed Brown County to build such a beautiful and functional library," said Kathy Roberts, president of the library board.
Born June 10, 1924, to Solomon and Faith Tesh Wickard, he grew up in the Flora area. Tesh was an only child who never married. Except for relatively small bequests to a few cousins and friends, all of his estate went to the library. He died Oct. 31, 2014, and the endowment was incorporated last summer.
Although his parents owned a productive farm, Tesh wasn't interested in running it. When his parents retired, they sold the farm and moved to Nashville. Tesh served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, finished his bachelor's degree at Indiana University and did graduate work at Purdue University. After a short time at working at Eli Lilly and Company and teaching at Culver Academy, he found his place at Hauser High School. He was a lifelong enthusiast of the theater and belonged to a dance group in Indianapolis. He moved to Nashville upon retirement.
"The library was like an extension of his living room," said longtime friend Cynthia Miller of Indianapolis.
"He worked in education all his life," Miller said, "and education requires good libraries. He saw that aspect of it too.
"He was very light-hearted and upbeat. He just loved to be around people."
She said he was content to live in Nashville, and loved the camaraderie he found at the library.
"He had found his place in life, and that was here," Miller said during an interview at the library.
Tesh specified that the funds be used only for maintenance, expansion and repair because "he didn't want to see this institution deteriorate like so many do without ongoing support," she said.
Snyder said future projects could include carpeting, roof replacement, heating and air conditioning systems, floor reinforcements, library layout changes and reserve emergency funds.
"This is a great benefit to the library, however it doesn't alleviate or remove the need for regular governmental funding," Snyder said. "Other sources of funding are still important because these funds cannot be used for purchasing books, programs or staffing. The Brown County Library is an organization that the community takes great pride in, and gifts such as this make it possible for the library to continue to meet our community's expectations."
"Tesh was very special to our library life," said retired library director Yvonne Oliger. "He visited every day and had his favorite magazines and newspapers.
"If he saw something that was needed he would stop by my office and tell me what was missing and offer to help. The reading lamps in the library reading area are a gift from Tesh."
"Sometimes we would go back to the reading area and he would be slouched all over a chair just like he was home. That was his greatest gift to all of us. He thought the library was home," Oliger said.