Librarian's life story has rich twist at the end from the Columbus Dispatch:
Before her death at age 57, Carol Sue Snowden lived in a condominium on the East Side and drove a used Chevrolet.
She worked for 30 years in the Whitehall branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, rarely indulging in anything except her passion for books.
The daughter of parents who survived the Depression, Snowden -- who never married or had children -- was the picture of frugalness.
That's why 50 friends and library colleagues who gathered late last month for her memorial were so stunned to learn that she was a millionaire.
And Snowden, who died of ovarian cancer in January, left her money to the libraries she loved.
She willed $530,000 to the Whitehall branch and $70,000 each to the libraries of seven Columbus-area schools -- for a combined gift exceeding $1 million.
"You should have heard the gasp in the room," recalled Kim Snell, spokeswoman for the Columbus Metropolitan Library. "And then to follow it up with seven announcements of $70,000 for seven schools in the community -- it was just unbelievable."
The donation is the largest in recent memory for the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Snell said, and by far the largest given to the Whitehall branch.
"It's not like we're paid huge amounts of money, so it was quite a shock," said Deborah Replogle, the branch manager. "It was an incredibly generous gift."
Snowden amassed her fortune through thriftiness and wise investments, one of her three sisters said. Still, even her parents and siblings were shocked at the money she'd amassed.
"It's just a testimony to how you can save if you just do it every day," said Susan Snowden, 52, of Chicago.
Before her death, the reserved Carol Sue Snowden had asked for her family's blessing in leaving her money to the libraries.
"We think it's wonderful -- it's a legacy," Susan Snowden said. "Just imagine the children and parents ... how many people it will benefit for years to come."
Her sister earmarked the Whitehall branch money for a teen and children's activity center whenever a new library is eventually constructed. (Library officials are researching what to do about future facilities for all branches, Snell said, so a new building could be possible but is not yet planned.)
The seven schools that received money are places where Snowden had read: Etna Road Elementary, Kae Avenue Elementary and Beechwood Elementary in the Whitehall district; Broadleigh Elementary and Fairmoor Elementary in the Columbus district; and Holy Spirit and St. Catharine in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus.
She asked that 90 percent of the money be used to enhance print collections and 10 percent to buy computer-related material.
Snowden also left money to the libraries she used growing up in Peoria, Ill., including $10,000 to her grade-school library, $10,000 to her high-school library and $10,000 to her local library.
In addition, she left $10,000 to a colleague to pursue a master's degree in library sciences.
Her family presented giant checks to each library during the memorial, relishing the excitement that Snowden knew she wouldn't get to see. Susan Snowden wonders whether her humble sister would have liked such an event, but she wanted to celebrate what her sister had done, she said.
Replogle -- and her young readers -- will inevitably celebrate for years to come.
"It's a very low-income community," the Whitehall branch manager said. "She had worked here for so many years. She knew the teachers. She knew the people who walked in here every day. ... She just felt there was something she could do to help."
And she did, in true librarian fashion: quietly.