CARLSBAD — From humble roots to knocking on the doorstep of the century mark, Ben Schulman has made it a priority to give back.
Last weekend, the 99-year-old was honored at the inaugural “Night at the Library” for his contributions to the Dove Library, specifically the Ruby G. Schulman Auditorium, which was named after his late wife.
The library opened in 1997, but Schulman donated a hefty sum to the Carlsbad Arts and Library Foundation after Ruby passed away in 1996.
“When my wife passed away, I found out she had overdue books. When I calculated the fine, it came to $250,000,” he jokingly said. “The library made very good progress.”
He also donated an additional $10,000 on Saturday after he was honored by the foundation, said board member Gita Nassiri.
“It was a wonderful event,” she added. “Mr. Schulman was very touched by the program.”
Hailing from the East Coast, Schulman met Ruby, who was only 15 and nine years his junior, in Boston during his service in the U.S. Navy in World War II.
Despite the difference in age, the two dated, married in 1944 and were together for 52 years.
“I wanted to do something for her memory,” Schulman added. “This has turned out to be the most used building at the library.”
Both have been active in the cities they lived and also honored by Schulman’s alma mater Vanderbilt University in 2002 where the Ben Schulman Center for Jewish Life was dedicated.
After landing in Carlsbad, the two dove in to community service and visiting the old library in La Costa.
In addition to the endowment gift that supports programs in the Ruby G. Schulman Auditorium, Schulman has also, over the years, contributed books from his personal collection. His gift, in Ruby’s name, has been used to present a wide variety of performances and literary programs in the Schulman Auditorium, including events related to the library’s annual Summer Reading Program.
The event, meanwhile, was the foundation’s first time putting on the fundraiser and will do so again next year, Nassiri said. She said about 130 people attended and were treated to music, dancing, dinner, tours and a live performance inside the auditorium.
“It just created an awareness about the capabilities of the library,” she added. “We got a lot of positive feedback. We sang Happy Birthday to Mr. Schulman … talked about the events at the library.”