The Hugh and Isabella Donnan Fund

The photo of Hugh and Isabella Donnan is from an undated issue of the Sewickley Herald and was taken on the occasion of Mr. Donnan being presented with a clock by the board of Sewickley Cemetery in celebration of his 20th anniversary as caretaker.

When Elizabeth Minter and her siblings made a gift of $7,500 to the library back in 1992 to honor their parents, they never imagined it would grow to more than $100,000 nearly three decades later. The Donnan Fund serves as a source for collections funding, with librarians selecting books that would have meaning to her parents including, but not necessarily limited to, topics such as gardening, sewing, and books by Scottish and Irish authors.  She shared their story with us recently when we asked some of our donors to answer a question about why they give to the library:

“My earliest memories are of my mother taking me to Sewickley Public Library to select books.  My father moved to Sewickley in 1927 from County Down, Northern Ireland, and initially worked on several of the estates in Sewickley Heights as a vegetable farmer.  But his real love was horticulture and he became groundskeeper and chauffeur to Mrs. Pontefract in Edgeworth and later for her daughter, Mrs. Childs.  My mother, a professional seamstress from Scotland, immigrated to Pittsburgh in 1928 and worked as a fitter in the couture department at Joseph Hornes.  From there she was hired to work in Edgeworth for the Scaife family.  My parents met at a dance at the YMCA in Sewickley and after they were married in 1932 they lived and worked in the area until my father died in 1982.  His last position was as superintendent of Sewickley Cemetery where he also had greenhouses and a plant business.  Both my parents were avid readers.  I have continued to support the Sewickley Library over the years with memorial gifts and other occasional contributions.  It is my last real connection to Sewickley.”

We recently enjoyed a visit from Mrs. Minter and her niece, Sheila, as she passed through Sewickley on the way to a memorial service to honor her late sister, Mary Donnan Baker.  While she was here, she made an additional gift to her family’s fund in her sister’s honor.  She regaled us with library stories of her own as she herself is a librarian for a private library in her now home state of California.  She has a unique understanding of libraries and the funding challenges they face, and we are honored she continues to support SPL with gifts to her family’s fund.

We share Mrs. Minter’s story with you during Love Your Library month as an example of how a donor who loves her library has helped to create a legacy gift to honor her family; whether you give an annual, memorial, honor, or endowment gift, every gift has a story.  What will your Love Your Library story be?
For more information on all the ways to make a gift to Sewickley Public Library any time of year, visit


Creating a Library Legacy Gift