A retired attorney with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office bequeathed an estimated $800,000 gift to Arlington Public Library, which officials believe is the largest private donation ever left to the county.
Rosemarie G. Bowie of Arlington died June 24, a few days before her 77th birthday, according to a county news release. In her will, she instructed that the proceeds from the sale of her Danville Street home in North Arlington and half of her remaining estate be given to the library system.
County officials believe the gift to be worth nearly $800,000. They have searched records through 1936 and haven't found any other gifts rivaling that amount.
Besides being an attorney, Bowie was a longtime pro-bono volunteer guardian of elderly Arlington residents. She also enjoyed photography, sewing and ceramics. A family member told Arlington County that Bowie tried to support others in a "quiet" and "lasting" way, the news release states. Books and education were top priorities for her Bowie, an avid reader and frequent user of Arlington Central Library.
The library plans to honor Bowie with a plaque, spokesman Peter Golkin told Patch in an email.
"She was apparently quite humble so we want to celebrate her generosity accordingly … A very kind, generous and community-minded person who will be remembered through her love of the Library," Golkin stated.
The Arlington County Board is expected to formally accept the gift at its regular meeting on Saturday, Sept. 21.
Library staff, its governing board and the County Manager's Office will discuss the best way to use the funds, Golkin stated. There's no rush or deadline, he said.
Golkin hopes to find a staff member or volunteer who remembers Bowie using the library.
She renewed her library account this year and had received one of the new library cards, he said.