Today, on what would have been her 91st birthday, Eckhart Public Library recognizes one of its most faithful supporters.
Gloria Fink passed away Aug. 4, 2014, leaving behind a legacy that will help the library fulfill its mission to foster lifelong learning and literacy for years to come. Late last year, a substantial gift established the Gloria Fink Eckhart Public Library Endowment at the Community Foundation of DeKalb County.
Eckhart Public Library Director Janelle H. Graber hadn’t met Gloria Fink when she took the job in 1992.
“I got to know her first as someone who cared about the library, and then, along the way, we became friends,” Graber said.
Fink, as an engaged citizen of her community, took a proactive interest in the causes she supported, and believed strongly in the importance of the library to the community.
For example, Fink read in the newspaper that the library needed to change its hours because of budget reductions.
“She called and said, ‘I want to help,’” Graber recalled.
Fink also was one of the first to step forward in the mid-1990s to support the library’s renovation and expansion.
Graber describes Fink as “a quiet, thoughtful giver” – one she never had to ask for gifts for the library, and one who didn’t want recognition for her philanthropy.
Author Barbara Olenyik Morrow, a library board member, had this remembrance:
“Some people say they appreciate good literature. Gloria Fink could say so – and you knew that she meant it. She was extremely well-read, and her mastery of classical literature, especially her knowledge of Greek and Roman mythology, was truly impressive. When she referenced books or literary matters, I listened carefully. And I always walked away better informed.”
Son David Fink, one of her four children, said Gloria Fink’s family is still learning about the causes she supported. Nearly all were local, and reflected what she loved, such as animals, literature, education, and music.
In most cases, her support and philanthropy lasted decades. She began singing in the Auburn Presbyterian Church choir as a child in the 1930s, when her mother was choir director, and kept up her participation until recent years.
Music was a huge part of her life, and she was a long-time supporter of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and recently Heartland Sings. She also brought music to the Auburn community by sponsoring local concerts.
Other long-term causes included the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Automobile Museum and the DeKalb Humane Society.
David Fink described his mother as very self-effacing, but also very independent.
She loved travel, and her age didn’t slow her down until a few years ago. In her late 80s, she took trips with family to Argentina and Patagonia, Hawaii, and a cruise. Over her lifetime, she visited all the continents except Antarctica, he said.
She respected other people and their privacy, and she believed in good citizenship. In fact, she never had a single traffic citation, her son said.
In that way – through simply showing, not necessarily telling – she imparted lessons.
“Your parents teach you, in many respects, how to live life,” he said. “She was certainly a very good role model for all of us.”