In Good Company

Surrounded by friends and family, 101-year-old Katharine (“Kay”) B. Coventry stood at a podium in the library. She turned to look behind her at the names of the people on the Andrew Carnegie section of the Duluth Library Foundation donor wall, where a plaque bearing her name had just been added. She looked back at the audience and remarked, “What a lovely crowd I’m with.”

A lifelong bibliophile, Kay also wrote a memoir, titled Growing Seasons: A 20th-Century Memoir. Mrs. Coventry had supported the Duluth Public Library for many years, making use of its resources and regularly donating funds to the Foundation to build up the library’s videography collection.

In spring 2014, with a gift to the Foundation, she reached—and surpassed—the threshold of $10,000 of cumulative giving. To acknowledge this milestone, the Foundation held a reception in her honor. Foundation President Dan D’Allaird introduced Mrs. Coventry, and City Council President Linda Krug thanked her for her generosity to the city—a generosity consistent with Mr. Carnegie’s own philanthropy.

Mr. Carnegie grew up in a tiny stone home in Dumferline, Scotland. In his youth, he was forbidden to walk on the nearby grounds of the Pittencrieff Estate because he was so poor. Years later, a financially successful Mr. Carnegie returned to Dumferline, purchased the estate, and donated it to the city to be made into a park. Dumferline is also where he built the first of his public libraries. Some years ago, Mrs. Coventry herself visited Carnegie’s childhood home and strolled through Pittencrieff Park.

At the podium, Mrs. Coventry quipped, “I don’t even if know if my library card is up-to-date!” Then, after receiving applause, she made her way to the refreshment table, surrounded by well-wishers and admirers.

Katharine Coventry was honored for her philanthropy. A plaque bearing her name was mounted on the donor wall (background). Photo © Bob King/Duluth News Tribune.