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Libraries Change Lives – Phil Henoch

December 4, 2012
Phil Henoch

Photo courtesy of the Post-Bulletin

The Rochester Public Library lost a good friend recently. Many of you knew him, many learned from him, and the community, as a whole, benefitted from his wisdom, forward thinking and generosity.
Phil Henoch was born in 1915 and moved to Rochester in 1973. He and his family purchased two McDonald’s stores and expanded to five; they did well.
Phil said, “I’ve spent much of my life trying to ‘pay back’ all I have received. As I say, ‘You have to put some water back in the well.’”
Phil demonstrated his commitment to ‘putting water back in the well’ in countless ways, the one that impacted the library the most was his becoming a founding member of the Rochester Public Library Foundation in 1996.
The new library building had been open for a year when Phil Henoch, Chuck Hazama and 15 others met. After much discussion, they realized and decided that in order to be an outstanding library, the library would need an ability to fund new ideas and projects that were not in the yearly budget.
Throughout the intervening years, the amount of funds in the Foundation coffers grew, guided by Phil’s leadership of the Finance Committee and his wise questioning and commitment to not only principal growth, but expenditures in library start-up projects. Judith Taylor, the library director at that time remembers, ”He did not speak loudly or often, but when he did, people listened.”
An article in the latest Rochester magazine about Phil had his answer to the question, “What board are you most active with now?” His answer, “The Library Foundation Board. Not the Library Board. I’m not smart enough to be on the Library Board. Our focus is to raise funds to help the library….I rank the library with the police department and the fire department. I think they’re on a parallel course in that they’re necessary for the health of the community.”
Even in the bad times he was serious about some of the funds going to the library even if it meant going into the principal one time. He said,” we are accumulating this money for the library’s needs; some should be spent there each year.”
Some of the projects the Foundation has provided funding for in the last five years include:

  • Children’s Division Improvements
  • Lobby Changes/Circulation Consolidation
  • Storytime Kits
  • Book-Group-in-a-Bag kits
  • Lock-A-Shelf
  • Little Tykes Computer
  • Digitizing Project
  • Children’s Literacy
  • Building Study
  • Marketing/Merchandising Project
  • Endeca – Online Catalog Project
  • Science Kits
  • DVD Conversion
  • Materials
  • Online Homework Assistance

Phil, through his vision and leadership with the Rochester Public Library Foundation set the stage for the library changing the lives of many people in the community for the foreseeable future.
He is missed. Thanks for everything, Phil.

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