Monday, December 19, 2011

Living and Giving Like No One Else

Marjorie Drexler is my kind of person.  For those that missed it Friday afternoon, the Oshkosh Public Library announced that Drexler had left them a $1.1 Million bequest in her will when she died back in August of 2010.  The donation came as a complete surprise to everyone at the Library--and to those who knew Marjorie as well.

Library staff didn't know much about Ms. Drexler before her death.  She didn't serve on the Library Board, she didn't sit on any steering committees and she never went to City Hall to complain about proposed budget cuts for the library.  She checked out books and movies--enjoyed them at home--and then brought them back in a timely fashion.

The bequest was never brought to the attention of Library officials before Marjorie's death.  There was no press conference with a big check and a bunch of local politicians and bureaucrats droning on about the decline of public investment in libraries and museums.  There was no "groundbreaking" or "formal dedication" of the Marjorie Drexler Wing or Conference Center.  There was no requirement for taxpayers to put up an equal amount to build something--and there is no long-term expense to the city to maintain a new building or facility.

My favorite part of this story is that--to a person--those who knew Marjorie had no idea that she had a million dollars to donate to the Library.  She worked at Oshkosh Truck and--by all accounts--lived very simply.  No fancy house, no fancy cars, no other conspicuous consumption.  Apparently, she bought only what she needed--and put the rest of her money into retirement accounts and investments.  Amazingly, that gave her more than enough to live on into her 80's--with plenty more left to benefit that which she enjoyed the most in life.

Dave Ramsey's mantra in his Total Money Makeover is "If you are willing to live like no one else now--later, you can live (and give) like no one else."  I'm glad to see Marjorie Drexler proves that really is true.

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