On Tuesday evening, a group gathered at the Carnegie Center to honor Wally and Esther Ost, who were evacuated during the flood and are relocating to Sioux Falls, S.D., to be near their children.
Esther has been the executive director of the Carnegie almost since they arrived in 1979, earning the respect of many in the cultural community of Minot by saving the now 99-year-old building from being razed.
The center was one of the 1,689 libraries Andrew Carnegie founded and funded from his steel fortune across the United States, and is now one of only six still standing in North Dakota.
MDN File Photo - - Longtime Carnegie Center executive director Esther Ost, left, and administrative assistant Dee Johnson in 2008 dropped the final payment for the Carnegie Center’s roofing project in the mail, just one of the many projects Ost was able to coordinate in her time with the center.
Board member Scott Bexell said to the Osts on behalf of the board that the board members wanted to express their thanks for all the fine work the Osts have put into the building over 30 years.
"We really want to thank her (Esther) especially and wish both of them a lot of good luck in South Dakota," he said.
Among well-wishers reminiscing about the impact the Osts have had in Minot was Lowell Latimer, who spoke of the parent-teacher association, meetings he shared with them, as well as the music Wally wrote specially for the First Lutheran anniversary celebration.
Wally was cited by a number of people who knew him through his compositions and work in various bands in the city.
Jerry Spitzer said, "We'll miss them because of their involvement in the community and especially the music community."
Incoming executive director Michele McKamy, gesturing around the first floor, said, "This is all her. She has put everything together. She is the joy and the light and the life of this building."
McKamy plans to revive several of Esther Ost's regular programs, like the small concerts by local artists who otherwise have no venue to perform. She would like to build up the art collection, including the antique furniture, and reconnect with the historic resources of the Carnegie.
"Of course we'll be honoring all the commitments that people have already the weddings and parties and receptions," she said.
Esther, a pastor's daughter, said, "Growing up, we knew as soon as we had the house just the way we wanted it, with the picket fence all neat and painted, that was when we'd be moving.
"And we know that the hole we leave behind will be filled," she added. "Perhaps not the way we would, but it's like the hole that a bucket of water scooped out of the horse tank leaves behind. It will be filled."