Monte library patrons continue to benefit from men’s long friendship

Reuben Fleet and Charles Leigh met in Montesano before WWI and were friends until Leigh died in 1970.

By Chris Springer

For The Vidette

Throughout the years many people from the Montesano community have donated their time and resources to make the Montesano Timberland Regional Library successful. Montesano residents value the accessibility to books and information that the library provides.

One of the more enduring contributions grew out of the relationship of two Montesano residents: Reuben Hollis Fleet and Charles T. Leigh. The two men met in Montesano before World War I and formed a life-long friendship. They were friends and business associates until Leigh passed away in 1970. Reuben Hollis Fleet created an endowment for the Montesano Library in the name of his longtime friend, which has been a continuous source of enrichment for the Montesano community ever since.

The Charles T. Leigh Endowed Memorial Fund started with 60 shares of IBM stock in 1970. Since that time, it has afforded us the opportunity buy books and other educational items for the Montesano library. The books and educational materials we obtain through the endowment are in addition to the items we receive from the Timberland Regional Library System. So, they are bought specifically for the needs of Montesano and are labeled with a “Charles T. Leigh Endowed Memorial Fund” sticker on the inside and a “Montesano Memorial” sticker on the outside.

The use of the Charles T. Leigh Endowed Memorial Fund gives us the opportunity to identify needs in the library that are not met by being part of a large library system. For example, we purchase books that are of local interest including history, crafts, gardening, cookbooks and much more. In addition, we also use the endowment to purchase items for our courtesy collection, which are books that people can take home that do not need to be checked out. For the children’s collection we purchase books as well as games and puzzles. For example, this month we purchased Code-A-Pillars, which introduces children to computer coding in a fun and hands-on way.

An especially important function that the Charles T. Leigh Endowed Memorial Fund allows us is to purchase books on topics on that are delicate in nature. It is important that we have books on the shelves that address difficulties that people go through in life. For example, a patron came in recently and asked if I could help her find a book in the catalog. We sat down at the computer and we went through the steps for searching for a book. She then acknowledged that she already went through these steps, but thought she might be doing it wrong because she couldn’t find anything on the shelf. She then confided in me that a close relative or hers had passed away and she was looking for books that could help her cope with the grief. This is exactly why the Charles T. Leigh Endowed Memorial Fund is so special. It allows us to identify gaps in our collection and purchase books to fill those gaps.

Reuben H. Fleet would be proud of the way his friend is remembered in our community. Charles T. Leigh Endowed Memorial Fund has brought education and entertainment to the citizens of Montesano for nearly fifty years and will continue to bring enjoyment for years to come.

Chris Springer is the manager of the Montesano Timberland Regional Library. He can be reached at 360-249-4211 or