Whitman and Hanson libraries receive bequest
BROCKTON — Some people may, on occasion, consider taking a walk to their town’s public library — if the weather is nice and it’s not too far — but avid patron Bruno G. Guerra of Hanson thought nothing of walking as much as four miles through the woods to use a library.
The Brockton native used his research at three area libraries to build a healthy stock portfolio and, in his will, shared the dividends.
Brockton, Hanson and Whitman public libraries were each left more than $350,000 for capital projects. Guerra also left funds to Bentley College to endow a scholarship in honor of his wife Marjorie.
All three libraries will also post a memorial plaque to Guerra.
The libraries receiving bequests from Guerra’s estate co-hosted a reception program at the main branch of the Brockton Public Library Sunday afternoon as a thank you to his family.
“He loved the library,” said nephew Barry Guerra. “He loved to read and had a lot of passion for libraries and he had a lot of friends — he just loved to talk to people.”
The libraries loved him back as the advocate for the valuable services libraries continue to provide communities.
“It took a lot of self control on my part to tell nobody for like a year,” Brockton Library Trustees President Fred Howell said of the probate period. “We decided it would be really nice to have an event to memorialize Bruno’s gift to the library systems of Brockton, Hanson and Whitman and to bring his family here to recognize what a wonderful gift this was.”
Library directors were invited to talk about the benefits of the libraries to their communities.
“Libraries are a place that anybody can go to,” Howell said. “It’s just a huge opportunity and a place where you can grow personally.”
Two of Guerra’s friends — Corinne Cafardo of Hanson and Don Karp of Brockton — spoke fondly of their late friend.
“The [Hanson Library] Foundation is overwhelmed by the generous donation made by Bruno Guerra,” said Foundation member Cafardo, a neighbor of Guerra’s. She enjoyed conversations with him about libraries and books he liked to read.
Honoring a friend
After seeing him walking through Whitman one day, Cafardo asked Guerra where he was headed and he told her he often walked the two miles from his house on Holly Ridge Drive in Hanson to the Whitman Library. Agreeing that Whitman’s Library is an excellent facility within easy walking distance, Cafardo also told him about Hanson’s library.
“Then I found out he had walked four and a half miles to the Hanson Library through the woods,” she said. “I had a talk with him about walking through the woods. I didn’t want anything to happen to him. The next I heard, he was walking down Route 58.”
She then had to insist driving was safer.
Cafardo said Bruno believed in the value of public libraries as a means to connect people and foster friendships.
“I will always remember Bruno as a loveable neighbor and friend,” she said, choked with emotion.
Karp, for whose family business — Central Radio Stores — Guerra worked for some 50 years, related how Guerra worked to learn bookkeeping and became a tax preparer.
“His life was centered around the library,” Karp said. “He was a very modest man, not particularly materialistic, he drove old cars because they were imperfect.”
Libraries were Guerra’s Google search engine, he said. He used the library to research companies before making small investments.
“His life centered around the store, his friends, his nephews in particular and the library,” Karp said.
Plans for gift
Hanson Library Director Nancy Cappellini, said Guerra was a very humble man who is helping enhance the facility. She said his bequest can help her library, built in 1991 and outgrown within four years, to expand.
“Libraries are busier than ever,” she said. “You can find any information you need … it’s a lifeline for most people.”
Whitman’s Assistant Library Director Marcie Walsh-O’Connor said the gift is greatly appreciated by a staff that is as dedicated to the community as Guerra was to libraries.
“It is truly a blessing to have staff and to have a community that cares,” she said, noting the gift will be used to enhance library technology. “Most people no longer have a desktop in their home anymore, so the ability to have brand-new computers in the library to assist them so that the staff can sit with them and show them how to use this lovely gift will be amazing.”
Brockton Library Board of Directors member Mark Lindy added that libraries treat all patrons alike.
“There are no barriers,” he said referring to a 1930s WPA mural on the third floor that calls libraries “the people’s university.”
Physical barriers to the city’s libraries were recently removed through renovations at the main and east branches and Guerra’s gift will be used to help renovate the west branch.
“People that need to seek jobs come here, people that need to learn about the stock market come here … and we’re just happy and pleased that we have all these folks here on a cold winter’s day to keep the library alive,” Lindy said.
Bob Buckley, chief of staff to Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter concluded the program by presenting a citation of appreciation to members of Guerra’s family.
“Municipalities can’t survive without the generosity of people like Bruno Guerra,” he said. “Money is tight, as you all know, we’re battling for every dollar at the state, federal and local level and a gift like this is something that opens doors to people that would [otherwise] be closed forever.”