2017-04-19 / Community

Flora native gives $2.3 million to Nashville library

When a retired southern Indiana teacher died three years ago, he left more than $2.3 million to the Brown County Public Library. It is the largest gift ever made to the library.

Tesh Wickard made the library in Nashville part of his morning routine. Most mornings he could be found sprawled in a comfortable chair near the fireplace at the library, reading newspapers and magazines or chatting with friends.

Wickard established an endowment which is set up so that only interest earned on the money can be used, the principal is never touched, and the funds will be ongoing. One of the first projects planned is to modernize and revamp the checkout area at the front of the library.

The gift will be celebrated April 23 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the library, with a presentation scheduled for 2 p.m.

Born June 10, 1924, to Solomon and Faith Tesh Wickard, he grew up in the Flora area. Tesh was an only child who never married. Except for relatively small bequests to a few cousins and friends, all of his estate went to the library. He died Oct. 31, 2014.

Although his parents owned a productive farm, Tesh wasn’t interested in running it. When his parents retired, they sold the farm and moved to Nashville. Tesh served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, finished his bachelor’s degree at Indiana University and did graduate work at Purdue University. After a short time working at Eli Lilly and Company and teaching at Culver Academy, he found his place at Hauser High School teaching business, and worked there for most of his career. He was a lifelong enthusiast of the theater and belonged to a dance group in Indianapolis. He moved to Nashville upon retirement.

“The library was like an extension of his living room,” said longtime friend Cynthia Miller of Indianapolis. “He worked in education all his life, and education requires good libraries. He saw that aspect of it too.

“He was very light-hearted and upbeat,” Miller said. “He just loved to be around people.”

She said he was content to live in Nashville, and loved the camaraderie he found at the library.

Tesh specified that the funds be used only for maintenance, expansion and repair because “he didn’t want to see this institution deteriorate like so many do without ongoing support,” she said.

“Tesh was very special to our library life,” said retired library director Yvonne Oliger. “He visited every day and had his favorite magazines and newspapers. Sometimes we would go back to the reading area and he would be slouched all over a chair just like he was home. That was his greatest gift to all of us. He thought the library was home.”

Return to top