To the folks at the West Allis Public Library, he was an unassuming patron who spent hours in the periodicals section.

To neighbors, he was a notorious skinflint, so tight he once gave one of them an avocado pit as a gift.

To Frank and Marion Ermenc, he was the childhood friend who stood up at their wedding, a World War II veteran whose wounds went far deeper than his mangled leg.

Terchak died last year at the age of 85. But his image as an enigma has been perpetuated from the grave.

Late last week, the West Allis Public Library announced that its unassuming patron had bequeathed it nearly $1.3 million, thought to be the largest single bequest to a Milwaukee County library.

The gift stunned library officials and caught even the Greater Milwaukee Foundation off guard.

"I'm in a state of shock," said West Allis Library Director Michael Koszalka.

"It's mind-boggling," he said. "Who'd have thought that, one, he was that wealthy, and, two, that he'd be kind enough to leave that much to the library?"

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