Woodinville couple honored with memorial library donation

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Karen and Ed Forys. Courtesy photo.
The King County Library System Foundation recently received a donation in the amount of $150,000 from the family of Ed and Karen Forys. The money, which is designated for the Woodinville Library, was prompted by the death of Ed Forys, who passed away earlier this year, four years after his wife Karen lost her battle to cancer.

Karen was superintendent of the Northshore School District for 13 years and is remembered as a compassionate educator who devoted her life to helping children. In 1999, she was named Washington State Superintendent of the Year and was one of four finalists for the national title.

Ed was a highly decorated flight navigator and rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel before retiring from the Air Force in 1987 after 22 years of service. The couple, who were devoted residents of the Woodinville community, spent many hours in the Woodinville Library, finding the King County Library System to be a great resource for both professional and recreational information and reading materials.

According to Cindy Sharek, director of major gifts for KCLS, the donation is the largest the Library Foundation has received in many years. She says, “It is definitely the largest cash gift ever received from an individual.”

After much discussion as to the best use for the money, the decision was made to use it to remodel Woodinville Library’s meeting room. “There are several things that led to this decision,” comments Sharek. “The overarching goal was to use the donation in a way that would make the biggest impact. We wanted to ensure that everyone who used the Woodinville Library would benefit from this gift. Also, since Karen Forys was an educator and she and her husband cared deeply for literacy, education and lifelong learning, we wanted to use the donation for something that would support this passion.”

Sharek continues to explain that when the library was built in the early 1990s, the meeting room was created as a stand-alone space. Since that time, all new libraries in the system are built with meeting rooms incorporated into the general library space to enhance versatility and flexibility.

At Woodinville, there is a need for additional study rooms so the new meeting room space can be used as a quiet study area when it’s not in use, or it can be opened up and used as overflow space for various programs. In describing the remodel, Sharek says that part of an interior wall of the existing meeting room will be replaced with sliding glass doors, which will open up the space. And there will be windows installed to provide natural light.

She adds, “We’ll also be painting, getting new furniture and providing an overall update of the place.” Laura Boyes, manager of the Woodinville Library, is thrilled about the plans for the meeting room. She says that even though the space will remain the same in size, it will feel bigger to patrons because of the windows and the glass door. She believes the room will be more visible to people, especially from the kids’ area.

“It will help make what happens in the meeting room visible to the public,” she explains. “Patrons will be able to see what’s going on in there and they will hopefully become more aware of all the different programs we offer. Right now, our meeting room is shut off from everything and you have to make an effort to go over there and peer in through the door to see what’s happening.”

The Forys family is the first foundation donor to take advantage of the opportunity to “name” a room.

Officially, the meeting room in the Woodinville Library has now been renamed the “Forys Meeting Room” and the atrium has been renamed as the “Forys Atrium.”

In this way, the couple’s memory will live on in the library they loved.

“Thanks to this gracious and welcome gift from Ed and Karen, KCLS will continue to bring literacy, learning and library access to all members of the Woodinville community,” says KCLS Foundation Director Jeanne Thorsen. “We deeply appreciate this generous donation and, on behalf of the library patrons in King County, offer profound thanks to Ed’s three sisters.”

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