Stamos Family Honors Father by Creating Endowed Fund at the Valley Community Foundation to Benefit Ansonia Public Library
DERBY, CT (March 22, 2021) – Members of the Stamos family have established a fund at the Valley Community Foundation (VCF) in honor of their father, Peter Stamos, to benefit the Ansonia Public Library in perpetuity. Created by siblings Greg Stamos, Lisa Heerdt, Paris Heath, and Paul Stamos, the library will receive ongoing support through this fund for its programs, capital improvements, or general operating support.
VCF President & CEO Sharon Closius said, “We are thrilled to welcome this fund and are honored the Stamos family continues to partner with VCF in supporting the Valley organizations for which they are all so passionate about. Like many good books, we are excited for this ‘new chapter’ of the Stamos family’s philanthropy. The origin of this fund’s creation, like any good novel, has a beautiful backstory.”
The tale behind the Peter Stamos Fund for the Ansonia Public Library at VCF is just as wonderful as the stories sitting on the shelves of the Ansonia Library, which Peter has enjoyed for the past 70 years. Now 95, Peter is still an avid reader who will finish three-to-four books each week.
Born in Bridgeport, he moved to Ansonia after marrying the late Mary Vartelas in the early 50s. He became an educator, retiring as the principal of the Lincoln-Hayes School in Ansonia, often stopping at the Ansonia Library on his way home from work. There, he developed longstanding and meaningful relationships with the staff as well as a deep appreciation for the library’s significant role in the community.
Over time, Peter developed an extensive private library but would rely on his ability to borrow many mysteries, thrillers, and spy novels — genres that he still enjoys today. He would frequently visit local bookstores to buy novels while also noting the newly released titles that captured his imagination. Peter would then return to the library with his wish list.
“If the library didn’t have the book, the librarians would be happy to order it,” said Greg Stamos, Peter’s son. “The staff always took care of Dad and, in return, he would make modest annual donations to the Ansonia Public Library.”
When Greg’s mother passed away in 2005, Peter donated money for books in her memory and Greg was impressed with the reaction of other patrons. “People who knew my dad would approach him to say they read a library book and noticed my mother’s name on the book plate on the inside cover. How neat is that?”
Peter has always paid attention to the library’s needs, donating to projects like the clock tower renovation. He was particularly proud to support the work done to maintain the mosaic floor at the library’s entrance. Greg explained, “The Pegasus design resonated with Dad because of our Greek heritage.”
The librarians are still on the lookout for titles that might interest Peter and call him with recommendations. Greg said, “My sister Paris will take a ride with Dad and they’ll go pick up the book. Reading is still a great immersive passion of his.”
Although Peter would patronize libraries in other towns where he lived over the years — Orange and Woodbridge — the Ansonia Public Library holds a special place in the Stamos family’s history.
For his part, Greg remembers when Jean Whalen, the librarian, let him use a room on the third floor as he was studying for the bar exam some four decades ago. “I couldn’t get much quiet time in the family home with 12 Greeks living there. Since I passed the bar, I also owe the Ansonia Public Library a debt of gratitude.”
Peter recently sold his home to live with his daughter Paris. Greg credits his brother, Paul, and his sister, Lisa, for suggesting the family create a fund now. “By establishing a fund during his lifetime, Dad can see the difference his generosity is making. He’s very excited about this and so are we. We’re all voracious readers, from my late great uncles Elias and Polychronis Vonetes to my Dad’s four grandchildren.”
“In fact, those grandchildren — Alexis Stamos, Angelika Stamos-Cody, as well as Jacob and Lauren Heerdt — have their own exclusive book club but made an exception for their Papou so he could join,” Greg continued. “In an age with so much technology, we want others to appreciate the joy and serenity of holding a book in their hands, something that can transport anyone anywhere in the world at any time.”
“I have received so much from the Ansonia Public Library over the years,” Peter Stamos reflected. “The friendships I have made and the experiences I have been able to receive are so incredibly valuable to me. I hope, through this fund, the library is able to continue to offer the same to others for generations to come.”
About the Valley Community Foundation
Established in 2004, the Valley Community Foundation (VCF) distributes $1.6 million in grants each year to support the local nonprofit sector and the people it serves. VCF works in strong partnership with The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven (TCF), to promote philanthropy in Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, Seymour and Shelton and receives a majority of its discretionary funding as a result of The Gates Fund and other preference funds at TCF that benefit the Valley. To learn how your gifts of cash, life insurance, appreciated stocks, bonds, real estate, and other assets can help to support the quality of life in the Valley, please visit the website at www.valleyfoundation.org or contact VCF President, Sharon Closius, at 203-751-9162.
Donor Services & Communications Officer
Valley Community Foundation