The Fred and Molly Brown Permanent Book Fund

Work Room C at the Montrose Regional Library has a plaque outside of it which reads, “In honor of Fred & Molly Brown.  Presented with love by their children.”  It’s the result of a generous gift in 1998 when the new Library was being built. A contribution by one of “their children,” Fred (Jr.), and his wife, Gania, has created another homage–the Fred and Molly Brown Permanent Book Fund.

Fred and Gania established the Fund in honor of his parents and their passion for books.  Fred’s father was a member of the Library District Board of Trustees during the construction of the Montrose Regional Library.  “When my dad was on the Board, it was very significant to him,” said Fred.  “He was very involved in the design…it was life-giving for him to be part of this building.”  Molly was one of the best read people that Fred has ever known.  Both Fred and Molly have passed on, but their love of libraries continues with the books that are purchased annually through their Fund.

[Author’s note:  I have Fred Brown (Sr.) to thank for my involvement with the Library District.  When Fred and Molly decided to move to a retirement community in Oregon, Fred visited me and insisted that I take his spot on the Board of Trustees.  Refusal was not an option.]

Fred and Gania have their own passion for books, and my interview with them added a dozen titles to my reading list.  Fred says he was a “non-reader” until fifth grade when a teacher inspired him by reading award-winning books aloud to her class.  He recalled My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls and The Wheel on the School by Meindert De Jong.  When he became a teacher (he taught every grade between first and sixth at Johnson, Morgan, and Oak Grove elementary schools in Montrose), he loved to read aloud to his students, especially Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.  When he retired, he had amassed a 2,500 book classroom library which he passed on to his daughter Abi, who now teaches at Cottonwood Elementary.

These days, Fred’s interests run toward adventure and thrillers.  A favorite recent read is a golf/legal thriller called The Greatest Player Who Never Lived by J. Michael Veron.  He also likes Patrick O’Brien, John Grisham, and Clive Cussler, and listening to podcasts about history.  Fred admits that he doesn’t use the Library as much as he used to, since he buys many of the books that he enjoys on his iPad.  However, libraries have always been important to him.  Obviously, his parents loved libraries and Fred made money in college by doing research at the library for fellow students.

Gania is a big fan of audiobooks, and she always has one in her car, even for short errands around town.  As a physical therapist, she had a daily commute to Delta where she worked at the Willow Tree Care Center, and so she had at least 40 minutes each day to spend with a book.  She cited The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows as one of her favorites.  She enjoys Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters, about a Welsh Benedictine monk in 12th century England, and The Pelbar Cycle series by Paul O. Williams, a post-apocalyptic look at America.  She also is in a book club for the first time, and she likes that she is exposed to books she probably wouldn’t have read.   Recent selections include Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas and The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.

Gania’s parents were teachers, and her sister and mother are authors and co-wrote A Rendezvous with Colorado History, an elementary school textbook.  Gania can’t remember when she hasn’t been a reader, and she and Fred are sharing their enthusiasm with grandson, Jonathan and granddaughter, Noa.

One of the things that struck me during our interview was how Fred and Gania support each other in their reading.  For example, when Gania discovered The Pelbar Cycle, Fred read it, too, and now they both are cheerleaders for the series.  On an upcoming road trip, they’re looking forward to listening to The Hobbit together.  Fred and Gania were introduced by a mutual friend from Western State College, shortly after they had both moved to Montrose. Fred asked her to marry him after three weeks, they were married three months later and will celebrate 35 years of marriage this year. Both Fred and Gania moved to Colorado in middle school…Fred from Connecticut to Denver and Gania from Southern California to Gunnison.

The Fred and Molly Brown Permanent Book Fund provided seven new books at the Montrose Regional Library this year.  In addition, the Aldermere Foundation Permanent Book Fund (established by a donation from the family foundation created by Fred’s sisters, Marion and Becky, purchased six books.  Fred loves the perpetuity of Book Funds, and the ability to invest in the community.  He’s proud to carry on the philanthropic tradition of his family and the memory of his parents.