By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – Longtime Dearborn librarian Leonore Churgay, 94, died Dec. 23 at her Dearborn home.
Churgay received a bachelor’s degree from Marygrove College, and spent three years studying art in Paris at the Academie Julian, Academie Montmartre and the Academie Grande Chaumiere.
She began her career with the Dearborn Public Library in 1954 as a Library Aide at the Esper Branch, and after completing her master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Michigan, she became a Librarian I at Esper, and later a Librarian II, in charge of community relations, and responsible for library publicity, print documents and publicity for the city of Dearborn and other local organizations.
In 1976, Churgay was promoted to Librarian III, an administrative position, and in 1983 she became Deputy Library Director.
Library Director Maryanne Bartles said Churgay was an integral part of many of the improvements to the Dearborn Public Library, including the construction of Henry Ford Centennial Library, and the installation of several works of art, including the base-relief map of the United States, the serpentine wall and reflecting pool, and the installation of sculptor Marshall Fredericks’ statue of Henry Ford.
Churgay worked on the initial launch of computerized checkout of library materials in the 1980s, as well as the creation of an online library catalog.
Despite her retirement in April 1992, she remained active, serving as chair of the Friends of the Library-Dearborn book sale committee until 2012, and streamlining the used book sales and making sure they happened each month, raising more than $24,000 for the library.
Bartles said Churgay remained an active member of the FOLD board until 2019, and her institutional knowledge, dedication to the library and her sense of humor will be missed.
“I had the pleasure of knowing Lenore for nearly 50 years, and she was not only a dedicated librarian, but a mentor and a true friend,” Bartles said. “She will be remembered for her commitment to the Dearborn Public Library during her professional career, as well as for the many hours managing the FOLD used book sale and serving on the FOLD board.”
Librarian II and Youth Services Supervisor Rebecca Hermen said Churgay spent her life making the Dearborn Public Library better.
“Even after she retired, Lenore was devoted to the library, and worked hard to provide continued support for its mission,” she said. “Her knowledge, advice and service will be sorely missed, and it is hard to imagine that she won’t be back.”
Churgay’s neighbor, Therese Ternes, said the two met when she moved into Springwells Park more than 20 years ago.
“I was blessed to have a kind, considerate and friendly neighbor who generously shared her vast knowledge and love of books and movies,” Ternes said. “I will deeply miss our conversations.”
Churgay leaves her brother Jon (Diane) Churgay, nieces Dr. Cathy Churgay, Lisa Churgay and Jennifer (Nick) Smith, and cousins. She was preceded in death by her brother Richard Churgay.
She will be interred at Woodmere Cemetery, with the possibility of a memorial service once pandemic restrictions are lifted.
Arrangements are through HowePeterson.com. Memorial contributions may be made to Friends of the Library – Dearborn, 16301 Michigan Ave., Dearborn 48126.