Focus on Fostoria - Jun0105d

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Published on 06/01/05 in the Fostoria Focus
Mel Murray leaves 50-year legacy of service at Kaubisch
By LEONARD SKONECKI Focus Correspondent
- Click for picture -

Guests of honor Mel and Jean Murray (seated) were the guests of honor at the Fostoria Country Club May 26. Mel was honored for his 50 years of continuous service on the Kaubisch Memorial Public Library Board of Trustees. Standing are board members Dick Mann, Kris Hadacek, President Angie Gillett, Carol Hall and Paul Allison.

At its next meeting, the Kaubisch Memorial Public Library board of trustees will find itself in a situation it hasn’t faced in 50 years. Mel Murray won’t be a member of that body.

On May 26, Mel attended his final meeting as a member of the board. By June 7, a replacement will be named to fill his position. He began his tenure on the board in 1955.

Mel recalled that when he joined the board, prominent citizens like First National Bank President Eldren Layton were serving on it and he felt a little overwhelmed.

“I was still pretty young then,” Mel said. “I don’t think I said anything in a meeting for almost two years. I wanted to hear what the others were thinking.”

Board President Angie Gillett said, “I’ve been on the board five or six years. In my experience, I’ve found Mel to be extremely knowledgeable, especially about finances and funding. He’s taught me a lot about them and that’s helped me tremendously.”

Angie has been the board president since January.

“Mel is so dedicated to the library,” she added. “He’s done so much for Fostoria. We’re going to miss him.”

When Mel submitted his resignation, he paid tribute to others whose contributions have made Kaubisch Memorial Public Library one of Fostoria’s civic jewels — Elinor Fruth, Antoinette Baumstark, George Cranch and Arthur Kaubisch.

Mel also remembered the service of the library’s directors and other staff he’s worked with over the years — Ruth Brenner, Dan McGinnis, Doris Ann Norris, Dee Conine, Kristi Smith, Nancy Whipple, Penny Justice and Roxanne Rinehart.

“Fostoria has an outstanding library building, a friendly helpful staff and outstanding materials for use by our community,” he said. “I am pleased to have had the privilege of serving on the board and watching the growth of the Kaubisch Memorial Public Library.”

At a luncheon at the Fostoria Country Club following the board meeting, Angie presented Mel with a gift from the board. In keeping with Mel’s love of Fostoria glass, she presented him with a piece of glassware with “Melvin L. Murray, Fifty Years of Service, Kaubisch Memorial Public Library, Board of Trustees, 1955 - 2005” etched on it.

Fellow board member Carol Hall said, “I took Elinor Fruth’s place on the board. Mel was very supportive of me as a new member. He loves the library. That’s why he’s given 50 years to it. He has been such a great asset, very knowledgeable and helpful.”

KMPL associate directors Kristi Smith and Dee Conine have worked with Mel for many years.
“Mel has been a most dedicated board member,” Kristi said. “He’s always vigorously protected the library’s finances. He is very supportive of the staff and is always willing to share his knowledge and experience.”

“Mel has always fought like a lion for our funding,” said Dee. “Even today, he stressed how important it is. His presence on the board, of course, will be missed. But I know he and Jean will still be frequent visitors. He remains a very dear friend of the library.”

New KMPL Directory Jeff Winkle has only recently gotten to know Mel.

“Of course, I haven’t worked with him long. But anyone who devotes 50 years to a civic board certainly deserves our respect. Mel loves libraries and understands how important they are,” he said.

Mel has also served as president of the Ohio Library Trustees Association and on the board of

NORWELD, a regional association of libraries in northwest Ohio. In 2002, the remodeled reference department at the library was named for him.

Mel had a major hand in the library’s additions and renovations over the years and was an advocate of introducing computers in the library, both for public use and library operations.

At the beginning of Mel’s last board meeting, Fostoria Mayor John Davoli presented him with a proclamation making May 26 “Mel Murray Day.” Members of the library board are appointed by the mayor.

In addition to Mel, the current members of the board are Angie Gillett, president; Kris Hadacek, vice president; Carol Hall, secretary; Dick Mann; and Paul Allison.

An Indiana native, Mel has served Fostoria in many capacities. He was manager and president of WFOB and the first curator of the Fostoria Glass Heritage Gallery.

He’s written two books on Fostoria glass, a history of the Methodist Church in Fostoria as well as a 1997 biography of Gov. Charles Foster. Bowling Green State University’s History Department named “Charles Foster: Ohio’s Master Politician” the best book on Ohio history written by an amateur historian.
Fifty years is a long time, but it was more than work to Mel.

“It’s been fun,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Mel’s not the only one. Since 1955, many thousands of patrons have walked through the library’s doors. Many thousands more will do the same in the years to come.

That they’ve enjoyed the use of a first-rate library and its materials and services and will continue to do so into the future is testament to Mel’s dedicated contribution of the past half century.