A Life Well-Lived and A Library Card

This month is Library Card SIgn-up Month and I would like to tell you the story of Manny Mendoza.

Manuel B. "Manny" Mendoza of Bloomington, IL, passed away Thursday, June 25, 2015, at age 84, after a brief, final illness. Manny is survived by his beloved wife Margot; two daughters and a son.

Manny was born on August 28, 1930, in Independence, Kansas, the son of Antonio and Francisca Mendoza. His parents and 15 brothers and sisters preceded him in death. Manny graduated from Independence High School, Independence Junior College, Baker University, and in 1957 he became the first Mexican-American to graduate from Washburn University School of Law. He worked for State Farm for 43 years and retired as Senior Counsel in 2001.

Manny was active in retirement. His strong belief in the value of education and protecting the rights of others led him to a variety of community activities. He served on the McLean County AIDS Task Force, was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and was the Prairie Pride Coalition representative to the McLean County Jail review committee. He also served on the Washburn Law School Board of Governors and the Baker University President's Advisory Council.

Manny was an avid reader and enjoyed discussing the issues of the day. His interest in history and art led him to life memberships in both the McLean County Historical Society and the McLean County Art Association.

Manny would most likely have agreed with E. L. Doctrow who said "the three most important documents a free society gives are a birth certificate, a passport, and a library card.”

In lieu of flowers, several memorial donations were made to the Independence Public Library in Kansas, where Manny recalled spending many long, happy hours studying as a young man.

A life well-lived.

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Manny's wife, Margot wrote "as a boy, Manny discovered the library on his way home to the cement plant and later to a house on Wald St. The librarian at the time saw that he was often returning to read and offered him a library card. He loved adventure stories, enjoying the Sabatini books in junior high. He loved the National Geographic and we have 50 years of the magazine to prove it. The books, magazines, and newspapers at the library opened not just a door but the world to him! And as a result, Manny went on to junior college and then to Baker University, where he met his wife, and finally to law school. He said that Baker gave us our family. Without the library and his library card, Manny's life might have been very different."

 Author Lilian Jackson Braun said “a library card is the start of a lifelong adventure.”

September is Library Card Sign-up Month. A life well-lived and a library card. Get your library card today.