The Laton Endowment Fund
In the summer of 2017, the Library received a gift from longtime patron and supporter Ursula Marie Laton. She had the forethought to name the Library in her estate plan. Her step-daughter Jean Woody and husband Bill Woody handled the trust. The family's wish was to establish an unrestricted endowment. The Laton Endowment was created with a gift of $537,674 and is invested at the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. The endowment provides yearly income for critical Library purchases.
About Marie Laton
Ms. Laton was born in Los Angeles, California, on August 6, 1919. She died on February 21, 2017, in Springfield, Missouri, at the age of 97. She was married to Henry (Hank) R. Laton and worked as a librarian at a public library in the Los Angeles area. Hank was a decorated Chief Petty Officer U.S.N. and a dairy farmer in retirement.
Preferring to go by her middle name, Marie loved to walk their farm in Norwood, Missouri. After Hank died, Marie lived in the same apartment for 20 years. She was very frugal and watched her investments because she wanted to leave the Library a significant gift.
After a fire at the Library Center in 2004, Marie came to the branch to check on the books. She was quoted by the Springfield News-Leader as saying, "I was very distressed to hear about the fires. I'm an avid reader and I always check for the nonfiction books."
Marie avoided social isolation by coming to the Library often. Her daughter, Jean Woody, picked up books for her when her health started to decline. Bill Woody describes Marie as a "very gracious lady" who advised people to live simply and save money. Marie's desired legacy is "for the Library to prosper and grow."
The Laton Society
In 2020, the Library Foundation created the Laton Society, named after Marie Laton, to honor those who remember the Library in their estate plans.