How an Overdue Book Led to a $2 Million Donation

Erin & Heidi Hurst leave a lasting legacy at the Library
By Tracie Popma
December 7, 2018
Jim Quillinan next to a cart full of children's books purchased with funds from the Hurst bequestJim Quillinan found a bill for overdue books while in the home of his late cousin-in-law, Erin Hurst. Hurst, it seems, was an avid reader to the end.
“They always remember him reading,” Jim said, recalling when he met Hurst’s cousins.
Jim recently joined us at the Sacramento Public Library Authority Board meeting to be recognized for the contributions his cousin-in-law made to the Library. Erin and his wife, Heidi, left nearly $2 million to fill our shelves with reading material for years to come. In the days leading up to his visit to Sacramento, Jim told us about the Hursts and what their donation will mean for future generations.
Jim and Heidi were cousins and grew up together. Though Erin and Heidi were married in the ’80s, not much more was known about them and their life together. Jim knew that Erin and Heidi were dedicated to each other and their privacy, but he had only met Erin two or three times. He actually learned more about him as the executor and trustee of his estate.
Raised by his mother and grandmother, Erin went on to become a sheet-metal worker and later received a pension that served as the basis of his bequest to SPL. Erin and Heidi lived in a family home in Land Park for 30 years. After Heidi died, Erin remodeled the home, sold it and moved to Washington to be near the ocean and his family.
“One of the first things he did was get a library card,” Jim said.
When asked why Erin chose Sacramento Public Library for his generous donation, Jim touched on Erin’s love of reading and his great interest in the Library. With it came a concern about what the donation would mean to those who would benefit from it, as well as how Erin and Heidi would be remembered for their generosity, especially since they had few remaining family members and had lived a life of privacy.

“No one else will remember them and I want people to know that they made this gift to the Library,” Jim said. And remember, we will.
“Rather than go on a spending spree, we made the choice to take an annual distribution to purchase books for high-need areas of our collection,” said Rivkah K. Sass, Library Director and CEO. “This year, we bought early readers that help children make the transition into being confident and skilled readers.”
A fitting gift, according to Jim, who shared his hope that the gift “will help young people. I don’t want them to miss out on the joy of reading.”