Shorewood Public Library receives extraordinary $5.5 million bequest, partners with Greater Milwaukee Foundation to ensure long-term impact

The Shorewood Public Library has announced that Larry and Elaine (Hafemeister) Lange have made a significant bequest to the Library to ensure it will continue to flourish for generations to come. Their bequest of $5.5 million, will help the Library achieve its mission to help people learn, connect and explore by supporting future initiatives and enhancing current library services.

The Langes were longtime Shorewood residents and avid patrons of the Library.  Their gift is the largest bequest in the Library’s history.

“We are humbled and honored that the Langes thought of the Shorewood Public Library for their lasting legacy,” said Library Director Rachel Collins. “They understood the positive impact the Library makes in our community and wanted to ensure that positive impact for future generations.”

The Lange bequest will enable the Library to realize goals outlined in its Strategic Plan 2019-2024, including facility enhancements that foster community connections and create a welcoming and comfortable environment, as well as special programming opportunities. A portion of the gift will also be set aside for a future major Library building project.

The Library chose to partner with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation to manage the Langes’ bequest by establishing three separate, philanthropic funds that support distinct Library activities. The Foundation will provide investment and administrative services for the funds.

“We are proud to have a role in this incredible story of personal generosity,” said Ellen Gilligan, Foundation president and CEO. “We are committed to making sure the Langes’ gift remains a source of inspiration and provides growing resources for the Shorewood Public Library that they loved.”

Collins added, “the success of our Library as a community asset is due principally to strong ongoing Village financial support, and with donations such as this, other contributions we’ve received, and the ongoing fundraising efforts of the Friends of the Shorewood Public Library, our ability to serve the community is greatly enhanced.”

Larry and Elaine Lange were both professional engineers and lived on North Sheffield Avenue in Shorewood for many years. They were dedicated library users, regularly checking out books and volunteering as tutors in the Library’s long-running English Language Learner sessions. Elaine’s sister, Beverly Hafemeister of Cincinnati, said Elaine strongly believed in the Library as an institution “where everyone could learn (and) move forward in life.”  Elaine passed away in January 2018 followed by Larry in July 2018.

“The Library Board will be forever grateful to the Langes for this gift that will enrich Library services and the learning opportunities available to Library patrons of all ages,” said Alex Handelsman, president of the Shorewood Library Board of Trustees.

About the Shorewood Public Library

Shorewood Public Library is a member of the Milwaukee County Federated Library System.  The Library is a popular and central destination in the highly walkable Village of Shorewood, population 13,178.  In 2018, the Library had 309,794 visitors and checked out 192,037 physical items.  The Shorewood Public Library welcomes everyone to learn, connect, and explore.

More information is available at

About the Greater Milwaukee Foundation
The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is Wisconsin’s largest community foundation and was among the first established in the world. For more than a century, the Foundation has inspired philanthropy by connecting generous people to community needs that align with their interests. The Foundation was founded on the premise that generosity can unlock an individual’s potential and strengthen the community as a whole for everyone who lives here. We work in partnership with those who are committed to ensuring greater Milwaukee is a vibrant, economically thriving region that comprises welcoming and inclusive communities providing opportunity, prosperity and a high quality of life for all.