Gailanne Cariddi, the late state representative and city councilor, has left more than $400,000 to the city and high school libraries, and the bike path.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Gailanne Cariddi is still making significant contributions to the community more than a year after her death at age 63.
The late state representative's "remarkable, unbelievable generosity" in providing $420,000 in bequests to the city of North Adams was announced by Mayor Thomas Bernard on Tuesday.
In addition, the North Adams Historical Society has received at least $35,000 and friends and family of Cariddi have endowed a scholarship in her honor at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
Local officials, friends and members of organizations benefiting from Cariddi's will gathered in the city's "living room" at the North Adams Public Library for the announcements. These first distributions from her estate are in addition to other bequests left to various organizations shortly after her passing.
"Gail Cariddi was a leader who believed in an educated body politic," said Library Director Mindy Hackner. "She relished a good debate, she thought deeply about civics and civil rights, she worked tirelessly on behalf of our city library and this generous bequest will help the trustees continue her good work."
The trustees and the City Council had voted last year to accept an unknown amount of money after being apprised that Cariddi had made arrangements for donations after her death. The trustees had voted in October 2017 to establish a separate account for use for library programs, maintenance and operations.
Trustee Chairman Rich Remsberg couldn't immediately speak to how the money would be used but said the trustees had some ideas.
The library has been operating on a shoestring for a number of years. Its 150-year-old building is also facing some repair issues.
Cariddi, a Drury High School graduate, also left $35,000 to the high school library. Superintendent of Schools Barbara Malkas described the longtime city councilor as "a model of civic leadership."
"I would like to thank you Rep. Cariddi, wherever you may be," Malkas said, her eyes heavenward. "We know that you held education in very high regard. Thank you."
The final amount was a surprising $210,000 to the city "for the purpose of maintenance and upkeep of the bike path/pedestrian path connecting the Town of Adams and the Town of Williamstown."
Cariddi was instrumental in moving forward the bike and pedestrian paths in North County as an active member for many years with the Berkshire Bike Path Council. The North Adams section currently under design will go near her home on Galvin Road.
While the entire route through Williamstown has been dubbed the Mohawk Bike Path, the section from Williamstown to the airport was dubbed "the Cariddi Mile" by former Mayor Richard Alcombright, a name that many have picked up.
Bernard noted there have been a lot of questions about maintenance and upkeep on the trail and that this bequest helps answer some of those questions.
The North Adams Historical Society was surprised that it, too, had been mentioned in the will. Cariddi left at least $35,000 for the nonprofit local history group and the society was given 18 freight cars to scale with the main railroad setup that runs around its current museum in Western Gateway Heritage State Park.
"It happened at a very appropriate time, we're going to move from Heritage Park to the Holiday Inn and perhaps open next spring. if all goes well," President Charles "Chuck" Cahoon said. "Certainly this gift is going to assist this in a long way."
Family, friends and beneficiaries chat after the announcement.
Robert P. Ziomek, MCLA vice president for institutional advancement, said the newly endowed scholarship would go to Massachusetts sophomores and juniors, with a preference for those in communities that Cariddi represented, who shared her commitment to politics and the environment.
"I've been told that Gailanne was a familiar fixture on our campus talking with our students, she loved to teach them about how state government works," he said. "Her impact continues on our campus through the generosity of her family and friends with this newly established scholarship."
The gathering included Alcombright, City Councilors Marie T. Harpin, Jason LaForest and Paul Hopkins, members of the Democratic City Committee, representatives from the featured organizations and family and friends. Cariddi's successor, John Barrett III was in Boston and unable to attend.
Cariddi was had represented the 1st Berkshire District since her election 2010. She spent 20 years on the City Council, serving several terms as president, was a member of the library's building committee and the board of Northern Berkshire Community Television, and a longtime member of the North Adams Democratic City Committee. She was the financial manager of her family's business, the former Cariddi Sales Co., for more than 30 years.
Bernard called the bequests "a remarkable testament to the representative's legacy."
"Some like those in this room will know it and appreciate it but some will never know it," he said. "And I think that, too, is a testament to the quiet, humble way that Rep. Cariddi did her work ...
"Not seeking the spotlight but seeking first and foremost to serve."
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