Perchance to Dream

“Good night, sweet prince.” With these words from Hamlet, Rebecca Killen Hawthorne ended the eulogy for her father, attorney John Killen, in July 2013. It was a fitting farewell for a man who relished the works of Shakespeare, referencing them often, and who loved the English language that Shakespeare enriched by his writing.

“He was known to have quoted Shakespeare in his closing arguments in court,” recalled his widow, Elaine Killen, with a smile. The highlight of a visit to London was the side trip he and Elaine made to Stratford-on-Avon, to see a performance of The Tempest; in his library, John had a collection of books by and about the Bard.

So when Elaine considered how to honor the memory of her late husband, one of the ideas that suggested itself was to add his name to the William Shakespeare section of the Duluth Library Foundation donor wall at the library. She timed her gift to arrive on May 4, 2014—on what would have been his 87th birthday. Her gift was added to the permanent endowment, where it will continue to benefit the library into perpetuity.

“He lived a life framed by Shakespeare,” said Elaine. “It is nice to see his name beside that of William Shakespeare.”

John and Elaine Killen.