The gently sculpted landscape of the Skagit Valley has long been a retreat for painters and poets, but apparently it attracted at least...

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The gently sculpted landscape of the Skagit Valley has long been a retreat for painters and poets, but apparently it attracted at least one very wealthy jazz musician, as well.

Patricia Manieri has bequeathed the Anacortes Public Library more than $700,000 to establish a “jazz and/or swing music collection” in the name of her late husband, Dominic, an amateur saxophonist who worked as a chemist and engineer.

The donation rivals the library’s entire $750,000 annual budget.

“It came as a complete shock,” said Library Director Doug Everhart. “I don’t think there’s another library of our size in the country that’s received an endowment like this. It’s really wonderful to have. It also could be nice for the entire community. The Anacortes Jazz Festival [Sept. 16-18] is coming into its second year, and that will make a nice marriage.”

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According to the terms of Manieri’s will, the collection will be comprised of “printed materials, recordings and/or video in any format, and sheet music, with the collection to emphasize the saxophone.”

The will also states that the money may be used for occasional live performances and that the collection will be named after Dominic Manieri.

With a budget that size, said John Gibbs, assistant head of the Music Library at the University of Washington, Anacortes could conceivably acquire more than 40,000 items, making it the largest jazz collection in the state.

“Very few institutions would have anything that would rival that,” he said.

Under the subject heading “jazz,” the UW music library has 1,341 books, 2,107 recordings and 159 videos, he said.

The most famous jazz collection in the world, at Rutgers University in New Jersey, owns 100,000 recordings, 6,000 books and 30,000 photographs.

The Manieris moved to Anacortes in the mid-’80s, after taking a camping trip in the area. Dominic — known as “Dom” — was born in 1911 in upstate New York. He studied clarinet in high school and worked his way through St. Bonaventure University, also in New York, playing tenor and alto saxophone in dance bands.

After a stint at Daystrom Corp. in Olean, N.Y., he joined Lockheed’s famous Skunk Works division, in Sunnyvale, Calif., which developed the stealth bomber.

Manieri died in 1999. His love of jazz survived through his wife, Patricia, a former librarian. When she died in March 2004, she left the bequest for the jazz collection. The figure was originally reported as $650,000, but now that the estate has gone through probate, says Everhart, the amount has topped $700,000.

An endowment has been established to disperse the funds through a five-member committee that includes Everhart and the Manieris’ only child, Linda MacGregor. MacGregor was out of town and unavailable for comment.

With a portion of the money now ready to be dispersed, and the remainder reserved in the endowment, a community “input committee” has formed to make recommendations. Tuesday night, the committee decided to search for a consultant to help guide the process.

For many small-town libraries, adding such a huge collection would pose space problems, but in 2003 Anacortes opened a new, 28,000-square-foot facility.

“We’re pretty lucky,” said Everhart. “We’ve got a lot of shelf space. But if there’s enough money to do some brick and mortar work, there are a lot of decisions to make about how to set this up.”

Paul de Barros: 206-464-3247 or pdebarros@seattletimes.com