Calaway leaves big gift to Carbondale library |

Calaway leaves big gift to Carbondale library

Jim Calaway of Carbondale has long been a philanthropist and volunteer in the Roaring Fork Valley
Ed Kosmicki |

Adding to his long list of contributions to the community, Carbondale philanthropist and business mogul Jim Calaway, at 85 years old, has dedicated a legacy gift to Carbondale Branch Library.

This gift is a guarantee of at least $150,000, Calaway told the Post Independent on Wednesday. The end amount is tied to some of Calaway’s business investments, and he’s confident it will end up being significantly more than $150,000.

“Jim Calaway has always been generous to the library, from sponsoring our well-loved community room to arranging for the wonderful Surls sculpture,” said Mollie Roache, branch manager in Carbondale. “We are so grateful to have him in our community.”

The donor described his life philosophy as simply working hard, living modestly and giving his money away to worthy causes. “And I’m having a blast doing it,” he said.

Recipients of Calaway’s past donations have included Colorado Mountain College, Roaring Fork Valley Habitat for Humanity, Carbondale’s Third Street Center and the Thunder River Theater. Calaway also co-founded Colorado Animal Rescue, and Valley View Hospital’s cancer center bears his name.

The library management doesn’t yet have a specific plan on how to spend the money, said Sandi Kister, interim executive director for the Garfield County Library District.

Calaway has not placed any restrictions on how it might be spent. He told the PI that he’s not concerned with how his gift is spent as long as it serves the community.

“The library district is hugely thrilled to be receiving this kind of donation, which really enhances our ability to deliver fantastic services,” said Kister. “I was blown away that (Calaway) decided to make this kind of gift.”

As the library district hunts for a permanent executive director, the board hasn’t had time to plan how to use this money, though it will stay at the Carbondale library, she said.

The library district strives to keep the level of services equal across its different branches, said Kister, who wasn’t concerned that significant donations to one library would give it a leg up over the rest.

Calaway is also encouraging other people with means to dedicate legacy donations, hoping his gift will be the start of more large contributions to the library district’s other branches.

“In talking with Jim Calaway, it was evident that he believes giving should be fun. He has the most fun when all members of the community can rally together to support important causes,” said Roache. “He hopes this legacy gift will not stand alone, but become a catalyst for more donations and gifts to the Garfield County Libraries.”

The board is also wrapping up final interviews with executive director candidates Thursday night and is expected to either make a selection or seek new candidates by the end of the month.

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