The Cleveland Bradley County Public Library established the Rebecca Ann Bowman Library Endowment with an unexpected gift the organization received from a former librarian.

Rebecca Bowman, called “Becky” by her friends, was the Cleveland Public librarian for two separate terms from 1975 until 1984. Both she and her family played major roles in the history of The Cleveland Public Library from its beginning in 1923 until 1984, before the move to its present main campus in 1987. In 1923 the descendants of Sarah Tucker Johnston donated the iconic Italianate house and 4,000 volumes to the City of Cleveland as a memorial to Mrs. Johnston. Becky’s Aunt, Anne Bowman served as Cleveland’s first librarian. Anne Bowman was succeeded by the venerable Ruth Chambers in 1938, who was succeeded by Bowman in 1975. The 1976 edition of The History of Bradley County quoted Becky as saying of the library that she felt as though she “grew up there.”

Rebecca Bowman was the daughter of James Fletcher and Maude Pardue Bowman. She was
Salutatorian of her 1947 Bradley Central High School class, President of the National Honor
Society, and President of Book Club. She had an impressive education after high school, attending Agnes Scott, the University of Chattanooga, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and George
Peabody College, which specialized in the study of Library Science. Her library experience included work in Ethiopia, Germany, California, and also Cleveland Day School.

Attorney Michael Callaway remembered her as “a wonderful, generous woman who, as her recent gift attests, still was devoted to the Library thirty years after she moved from Cleveland.” When doing her estate planning she chose to leave a charitable legacy by establishing a Charitable Remainder Trust benefiting the Library.

This is a flexible giving vehicle that allows people to obtain an immediate income-tax deduction for assets gifted to the trust while also receiving a tax-favored income stream for themselves or their family members for life or a fixed number of years, with the remainder to be distributed to a favorite charity or charities.

Miss Bowman passed away in late 2015 in Green Valley, Arizona, the residence of her later years leaving the “remainder” of the trust’s assets to the Library which totaled $313,890.

Since Miss Bowman’s gift was unexpected, Jim Park, Chair of the Foundation for the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library explained that the Library Foundation had to decide how to manage the portfolio assets with respect to use and in investments. He said that “The Foundation Board concluded that the most appropriate way to honor Becky’s “permanent” devotion to the library would be to set up a permanent endowment in her name to help support the Library, by its income.

Park also stated that the Library Foundation, not possessing the expertise to manage the endowment fund, voted unanimously to transfer the account to the Community Foundation of Cleveland and Bradley County.”

Library Director Andrew Hunt said “The goal is to expand this endowment so that it will provide an ongoing stream of revenue to help insure a strong future for the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library.

Cathy Barrett, President of The Community Foundation said that “the endowment fund will support and enhance the educational purposes of the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library and will be used for the creation and maintenance of special events and programs. The Endowment will be invested and only a portion of the earnings will be spent each year so that the endowment will continue to grow and provide and additional source of funding to enhance the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library. This fund will also ensure that the legacy of Rebecca Ann Bowman will continue on in the community.”

Donations to the endowment can be made by simply writing a check to the Community Foundation and designating it to the Rebecca Ann Bowman Library Endowment Fund on the memo line or online at Community Foundation’s website www.clevelandbradleyfoundation.org.

The Rebecca Ann Bowman Library Endowment will support and enhance the educational purposes of the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library and will be used for the creation and maintenance of special events and programs.  The Endowment will be invested and only a portion of the earnings will be spent each year so that the endowment will continue to grow and provide an additional source of funding to enhance the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library.

For more information on the programs and activities of the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library visit the Library’s website.

Donations are made by simply writing a check to the Foundation designated to the Fund or online.