Story October 10, 2022

Gus Magee commemorates 38 years of library support

This year, the Library Foundation SD celebrates its 20th anniversary of supporting the San Diego Public Library. It’s quite a milestone but pales in comparison to Gus Magee, who commemorates more than 38 years of supporting the library in various interesting roles.

Gus is a retired City of San Diego administrator and current community philanthropist. He came to San Diego in 1966 when he entered the University of San Diego as an undergraduate after a U.S. Air Force tour. Gus played basketball at USD for four years, still holding many school rebounding records, and was the first alumnus inducted into the USD Basketball Hall of Fame. He went on to earn his Master’s Degree in Social Science at USD while also coaching. He continued to coach as an Adjunct Assistant for over 20 years while also working for the City of San Diego.

Gus began working for the city in 1972. He worked in various community-based programs providing consulting services and related services for disadvantaged youth prior to being assigned to the financial management and budgeting division. In 1984, he was assigned to the Library Department as Capital Improvements Analyst. In this position, Gus focused on evaluating possible locations for a new central library which would become the Central Library @ Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs Common.

He also coordinated branch library construction projects in established and new development communities. As a result of Development Impact Funds being approved for library construction projects, he helped shepherd several library construction projects, including the La Jolla-Riford, Rancho Peñasquitos, Linda Vista, Scripps Miramar Ranch, Malcolm X/​Valencia Park, Carmel Mountain Ranch, and North Park Libraries.

To see their dream become a reality’ was always a great accomplishment for me!”

Gus met with community members to get input on library planning, location, and design. That was the best part of my job,” Gus said. To see their dream become a reality’ was always a great accomplishment for me!”

Gus said he appreciated meeting with Friends of the Library and planning groups to gather input. Gus says some of the friendships he formed then continue today.

One of those friendships is with Katie Sullivan, who he met in 1985 when they worked on the new Scripps Miramar Ranch Library; he with the city, and Katie as a library champion with the Friends of the Library. They worked together to meet community needs to reflect the area’s history and incorporate elements of the iconic Meanley House into the new library, including using Meanley House doors in the current children’s room.

It was so interesting to see what we started with and the end product we were able to accomplish,” Gus said.

As Gus was moving toward retirement from the city, Katie approached him about serving on the Library Foundation Board of Trustees. Gus accepted and was a board member from 2008 until the completion of the Central Library and continues to be a loyal library donor.

A former Library Development Officer and Katie also linked Gus with Computers 2 Kids (C2K), whose mission is to reduce the digital divide for low-income students. C2K enhances student academic success by providing refurbished computers, education, training, and technical support. Gus remains on C2K’s board today and helped forge a C2K partnership with the library and Library Foundation SD, which was key in broadening community access to computers during the pandemic.

If there were anything my late wife would want me to do as I was grieving her loss, it would be to volunteer for a non-profit agency focusing on youth development,” Gus said.