Step into the Osceola Public Library, and visitors will likely notice that it has a new name. Lettering above the circulation desk now reads “Wilberg Memorial Library” in honor of a $508,000 gift from Charles and Gloria Wilberg.
The couple made their living farming in Osceola. They also loved to read. For years the family had planned a donation to the library, the giving of which was set in motion after Gloria’s death last year.
“Charles and Gloria Wilberg were very modest and unassuming people,” attorney Judy Remington said at the June 27 unveiling ceremony. “They farmed in Osceola since 1964, when they moved here from Minnesota. They raised five children: Charles Jr., Robert, David, Tom and Mary.”
Robert, Charles Jr. and his wife, Karen, returned to Osceola for the ceremony, at which Remington highlighted the Wilberg family’s values.
“Often when I worked with them I was reminded of my own Swedish relatives,” she said. “They brought their values truly from the old country. The first value they had was hard work. Charles and Robert can attest to the fact that dealing with many hundreds of acres, livestock, as well as raising five children was truly daunting. They were very successful at all of it.
“They also had a saving ethic. They often went without. The farm was the most important thing. The farmhouse was a little drafty and cold in the winter, and they spent many of those nights reading books from this library.”
The other thing about the Wilbergs, according to Remington, was their unending curiosity.
“They were fun people to talk to,” she said.
“They were interested in politics and economics. In particular, Charles was interested in finance. … I think it’s very fitting that their bequest is going to a library because a library is where curiosity is satisfied, adventures can be had and knowledge can be pursued.”
The story of the trust
Charles walked into Remington’s office in 1996 and announced that he wanted a charitable remainder unitrust.
“I never in 44 years practicing law had somebody walk in and say that,” Remington laughed. “On his own, he’d been on the internet and read everything he could read about this and decided that’s what he wanted.”
Remington helped him find a lawyer practiced in the specialty to set up the trust.
It was Gloria who decided to give the money to the library.
“She came to that very naturally,” Remington said. “Her grandmother had been the president of the library board in Taylors Falls, so she grew up knowing what a library was. In her will, Gloria made a beautiful gift to that little Taylors Falls historic library. She also made a substantial gift to Interfaith Caregivers of Polk County, but she wanted the biggest gift to come here, to the Osceola library. And she specified that she wanted it to be used for a new library.”
Addressing library staff, board members, and people who had raised funds for the new building, Remington added, “I know you’ve been working on many years to bring this about. Somewhere in those years Gloria heard about this effort and said that’s what she wanted this money to go for.
“I think this was their way of thanking the Osceola community,” she continued, “particularly the Osceola library, for making those nights on the farm so much more enjoyable. I know that Charles and Gloria Wilberg would be so proud that the planning they did so many years ago is coming to fruition and allows your vision to become reality.”
Marcia Dressel, library board president thanked the Wilberg family on behalf of the library board and to patrons.
“Mark [Kravik, chair of the Discovery Center fundraising campaign] used to describe the small library down the street as The Little Library That Could,” she said. “I imagine this as the library that is doing a lot more good for a lot of people in Osceola. On their behalf I truly thank you and honor your mom and dad’s legacy.”
Representing the fundraising campaign, consultant John Martin presented the Wilberg children with a copy of “Gone with the Wind” and another to the library, which will to be dedicated to Gloria Wilberg.
Speaking on behalf of the Mill Pond Learning Foundation, Timm Johnson added, “Your gift represents the culmination of years of planning. Charlie and Gloria figured out long ago how to leave a lasting legacy. Your name up there will be will be a legacy to your mom and dad forever.”