$100,000 Donation Given to Winthrop Public Library

Friday, March 2, 2018
By Transcript Staff

The Board of Trustees of the Winthrop Public Library has announced a major donation of $100,000 received from the James B and Helen P. Athens fund. The interest earned from the donation, which stems from the fact that Mr. Athens was born and raised in Winthrop, will be used to meet diverse needs as the library continues to provide core services to the Town of Winthrop.

Mr. Athens was born and raised in Winthrop.  He described his family circumstances as “poor like everyone.”  He remembers the narrow gauge railroad and especially enjoyed recalling that he had walked every street in Winthrop.  Despite living in other communities he insists that “Winthrop is my town” and that his “heart goes back to Winthrop where I grew up.”

A 1941 graduate of Winthrop High School, where he was described as “the executive of tomorrow,” Mr. Athens subsequently earned a business degree from Boston University, an MBA from Harvard Business School and a law degree from Boston College, which he attended at night.  James Athens also served three years in the U.S. Army as a cryptographer during WWII, including two years in London where he “saw some bombs fall”.

After a successful career as a business consultant and after establishing several startup companies, he retired to Cape Cod with his wife Helen.  He now devotes time to a Cape Cod agency that provides support for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, a disease that affected his wife for several years prior to her death in 2017.

Mr. Ron Bergman, chair of the Board of Library Trustees, noted that “This is the second donation of $100,000 or more to the library in the last couple of years. Both donors had deep Winthrop roots and are showing their appreciation for what they got from the Library, as well as their faith in the dynamic evolving role of libraries in our communities. Some people thought that the Internet and social media would be the death of libraries. Nothing could be further from the truth—-our book and other materials are checked out in growing numbers, our community programs are better attended than ever and there are many more of them, and we are becoming the focal point for activities that unite us as a community.”

Director Wallace said that “The terms of this gift will provide significant help in meeting our changing needs here for many years to come. People are increasingly recognizing the impact that libraries had on them when they were growing up, and are donating to give our libraries today the flexibility to meet the needs of our current generation and those to come. We couldn’t be more grateful to Mr. Athens.”

Director Wallace is working with the Trustees and town officials to arrange appropriate recognition and a celebration for Mr. Athens.

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