Melody Sky Eisler, the director of the Port Townsend Public Library, displays gardening books and others that focus on women artists, two subjects that will soon see an increase in supply following a donation accepted during Monday night’s City Council meeting. (Brian McLean/Peninsula Daily News)

Melody Sky Eisler, the director of the Port Townsend Public Library, displays gardening books and others that focus on women artists, two subjects that will soon see an increase in supply following a donation accepted during Monday night’s City Council meeting. (Brian McLean/Peninsula Daily News)

Estate donates more than $40,000 to Port Townsend Public Library

Director to restrict funds for future use

PORT TOWNSEND — Karen Rachel McKee was a glassblower and gardener who lived in Port Townsend for nearly 30 years, and she will leave a lasting impact at the city library.

The City Council accepted a $43,560 donation Monday night from the estate of McKee to go to the Port Townsend Public Library, a gift that will go toward enhancing the library’s collection on gardening and add a focus on women artists, library director Melody Sky Eisler said.

“This was home,” Michael McKee, Karen’s husband, told City Council members. “Thank you for keeping it going well.”

McKee moved to Port Townsend in 1990 and lived in the city until she died in 2017, Eisler said.

Eisler never got a chance to meet her, but she read her obituary to council members Monday.

“She has left her mark so much on our community,” Eisler said.

McKee was born in New York, earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester and her master’s degree from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass.

When she moved to the Northwest, she served on the steering committee that formed the Port Townsend Farmers Market and was a vendor for its first three years.

She was a co-owner of Roots, the former garden store in Port Townsend, served on the Jefferson Land Trust and, with September Glass Works, she was one of the first three women to own their own glassblowing studio in the country, Eisler said.

McKee was a gardener from the time she was 8, and she also was part of Port Townsend’s Secret Garden Tour. She was an instructor for the Clallam and Jefferson County Master Gardener programs.

“Karen created beauty through her art or her garden or her wardrobe, wherever she went,” Eisler read.

For the library, the special collections for gardening and women artists are estimated to cost $3,560. Eisler said individual bookplates will be used to honor McKee.

The remaining $40,000 will be restricted to the library’s fund balance until after the organization completes its strategic planning process, Eisler said.

Then Eisler will determine how best to use the funds, and how to honor McKee.

“She certainly seems like a remarkable woman and is leaving a beautiful legacy to the library,” Eisler said.

Michael McKee approached the library with the suggested donation in his wife’s honor last week, Eisler said.

Any amount more than $5,000 must be approved by the City Council.

Eisler called it an “angel” donation, adding that she saw a rainbow Monday evening as she was driving to City Hall for the council meeting.

“It is a joyful evening, indeed,” she said as she began her remarks.

The council unanimously approved the resolution and thanked Michael McKee for the donation.

“We honor that, and the meaning and intent behind it,” Mayor Deborah Stinson said.

________

Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at bmclean@peninsuladailynews.com.

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