Donor Profiles

Raymond Fay

Sometimes the most generous gifts come from the most unexpected places.

Raymond Fay was a high school science teacher in North Philadelphia who made a modest salary—never more than $11,400—and led a very private, quiet life. He was a humble man who lived frugally and didn’t own a car or a telephone, but he read more than 16,000 books in his lifetime, most of which he checked out from the Free Library of Philadelphia.

When Raymond passed away at age 92 in 1995, the Free Library learned that he had bequeathed his entire life savings—$1.5 million—to the Library. At the time, this was the biggest private donation in the Library’s history, and it increased the Library’s endowment at the time by a third, from $4.5 million to $6 million. This increased endowment allowed the Free Library to deeply invest in its crucial resources and programs, enriching the lives of more Philadelphians of all ages than ever before.

While Raymond’s gift certainly had an enormous impact on the Free Library system, bequests of any size transform lives and make a lasting difference for the hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians who use and depend on the Free Library every day.

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