The Charles A. Manis Memorial Permanent Book Fund

Gayle Johnson thinks that the idea of a Permanent Book Fund is “thrilling.” “Long after I’m gone, my money will be working for the Library,” she says. She also believes that immortality is achieved through others remembering you, and she’s happy that her father’s memory will live on in bookplates in the covers of all the books that her Fund will purchase in perpetuity.

Her father, Charles A. Manis, was a World War II Navy veteran, who didn’t graduate from high school. After his military service, he drove a milk truck, but then realized that he couldn’t do that forever, so he passed the General Educational Development (GED) test, went to college, and became a high school English teacher. He liked to joke that he was a high school teacher who hadn’t graduated high school. He was a “great reader” says Gayle, avid about non-fiction, especially the works of Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin. He also enjoyed John Milton. He encouraged Gayle’s love of reading, and there always were books in her home.

Like her father, Gayle came to education later in her career. After thirty years as a customer service supervisor for Gates Rubber Company in Denver, she moved to Montrose in 1999, and worked as a substitute teacher. A benevolent principal named Anne Braaten hired her to teach fourth grade at Johnson Elementary. Gayle now teaches at Centennial Middle School in the 21st Century After School Program.

Gayle grew up outside of Littleton, and recalls that she couldn’t check out books from the Littleton Public Library since she wasn’t a resident. Later, she remembers attracting attention from the local librarian for checking out a book by Frank Yerby, since she suspected that the book was “a bit racy” for someone of her tender age. (I hadn’t heard of Frank Yerby, and my research reveals that he was known for his historical romances.) Nowadays, Gayle is fond of Elizabeth George and writers of other “well-constructed stories,” as well as the historical non-fiction that her father liked.

She considers the Montrose Regional Library a gift to the community, and she’s pleased to support it through a Book Fund. Her Fund specifically supports non-fiction books. “I like that the Book Fund is forever. It’s not just a flash in the pan that is spent and then forgotten,” she says.