Eighty-five-year-old Irv Terchak was the millionaire next door. Modest and unassuming, the bachelor, and West Allis native, lived in the two-bedroom ranch home he once shared with his parents. Although he loved gardening and dancing, a bad leg made both difficult. The WWII veteran was active with local veterans’ organizations and honored in 1991 as Wisconsin Veteran of the Year for 17 years of volunteer service.
He never occupied a corner office during his years working for Wisconsin Motors, then Allis-Chalmers and after retirement, as a part-time bank courier. Still, he left an estate that surprised all who knew him, including the West Allis Public Library to which he left its bulk, $1.3 million. It is thought to be the largest single bequest to a Milwaukee County library.
As a show of appreciation and a thank you for the long hours he must have enjoyed reading in the library’s periodicals section, Terchak’s gift and the flexible guidelines for its use allowed the library’s board to create an endowment in the Foundation. As a noncritical city service the library has been hit hard over the years by tight budgets, Terchak’s generosity is softening those blows and will continue to maintain the quality of the institution about which he cared, forever.
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