Stair books find a home 2015.04.22

Local boy does good for the library.p.rathbuns.stair

That’s how Morenci’s library really got started with a building of its own in the 1940s and that’s how it received a big boost over the weekend.

The way those two events are tied together makes the situation even more interesting, said Stair District Library director Colleen Leddy.

Former Detroit Free Press publisher and Morenci native Edward Stair gave the city $2,500 to buy a library building in 1943. Upon his death in1951, an additional $10,000 went to the library, along with the promise of books from his personal library.

Those books, known as the Stair Collection, resided in the basement of the library for decades until the board of directors made the decision to try to sell the hundreds of volumes.

The books were offered in a silent auction with a minimum bid of $6,000. A few inquiries were made, but only one $6,000 bid was placed.

With the bid deadline passing last Saturday, Morenci native Gary Rathbun, and his wife Nancy, became the new owners of Stair’s books.

“The Cokesbury Shower Book,” “Marriage as a Trade,” “How to Write a Letter for All Occasions,” “We Married an Englishman”—more than 1,500 volumes of obscure books are now in the Rathbuns’ possession.

Gary said he has no intention of selling the books. He and his wife are simply book-lovers and they’re delighted to have so many interesting volumes.

Leddy is pleased to have the collection in the hands of someone who appreciates it, and of course she welcomes the infusion of cash to the library’s coffers.

Ed Stair has helped out the library again, and another former resident and supporter made it all happen.