Former teacher Ray Dillard leaves large bequests to libraries

Ray Dillard

When Ray Dillard retired in 1989 after teaching seventh grade spelling, penmanship and literature in Jefferson for 38 years, he left two generations of students with stories about his high expectations and his white shirts only personal dress code.

When he passed away in December 2015, he left funding for generations to come to enjoy what he enjoyed most – literature.

Check presentations were made Tuesday to the Jefferson public library and the Greene County middle school library for $139,894.76 each from Dillard’s estate. The funds to the public library are earmarked for use in the children’s department.

According to Roger Olhausen, a longtime friend of Dillard and executor of the estate, the donations are the larger part of the estate.

Dillard spent 51 summers running the gift shop at the Grand Teton Lodge in Jackson Hole, WY. Over the years he collected art by the region’s finest artists. His will stated the paintings were to go to the Grand Teton Lodge.

Olhausen and his wife Rose, both retired teachers themselves, took the paintings to the lodge. “It was nice to meet people who knew Ray and to hear the wonderful things they had to say about him. He was thought of very highly there,” Olhausen said.

Olhausen had not talked with Dillard about his will, or even about his role as executor, prior to his death. The gifts to the libraries and their size were a surprise but were totally in line with Dillard’s passions, Olhausen said.

Specific uses for Dillard’s gifts have not yet been decided. The school has appointed a committee composed of administrators, media specialist Jenny Fisher and Olhausen to decide how best to use the money. Olhausen speculated that Dillard probably would not have appreciated the use of technology in a library, but much has changed since he retired from teaching.

At the check presentation at the middle school were (from left) superintendent Tim Christensen, media associate Rona Challen, media specialist Jenny Fisher, Dillard’s attorney C. Scott Finneseth, Roger Olhausen and principal Shawn Zanders

The trustees of the public library will have the responsibility and pleasure of deciding how to use the gift, said, Jane Millard, library director and former student of Dillard.

The Jefferson city council, library trustees, Friends of the Library, library staff and young patrons accept the check from C. Scott Finneseth (back, wearing tie) and Roger Olhausen (back, second from right).

“More than 110 years ago, Andrew Carnegie gifted our town with $10,000 in 1904 to build a library building that is still in use today. Mr Dillard’s generous gift will be marked in our community’s history as another milestone for our public library,” Millard said. “Together with his long and distinguished teaching career, Mr Dillard will be well known as a benefactor of generations of readers. We are so very grateful for his gift to the library and look forward to using it in a way that will carry on the tradition of his teaching, which was instilling the love of literature and reading in children.

Assistant director and children’s librarian Terry Clark was also a student of Dillard. “After touching the lives of countless students during his teaching career, Mr Dillard’s legacy will live on through his generous and thoughtful gift that will touch the lives of the children of our community for many years to come,” Clark said.


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