Friday, September 7, 2012

We Miss Beverly Segel with All Our Hearts.

I am very sad to report that Beverly Segel, Boswellian since day one and long-time Schwartz bookseller, has passed away.

I first met Beverly when I started working at Schwartz in 1986, but did not get to know her well until 1987, when I moved to the Whitefish Bay office. She had not been a bookseller for too many years, but it’s one of the strange things about time that anyone who has worked in a job a day longer than you had been there forever and anyone who started a day after will forever be a newbie.

Beverly bought the mass market paperbacks for the Book Nook, as it was called, and ran all of our inventory reports, which, in the days before personal computers, were frequent and often ran to more than 100 pages. Like any other bookseller, she shelved and pulled returns and worked the register. But mostly, she sold a lot of books, in part because she seemed to know everybody.

And I mean everybody.

For some reason, it is important for me to note here that every day, she got her coffee at Heinemann’s, where she’d also get a pack of chocolate chip cookies. And to my astonishment, she had the willpower to eat the three cookies over several days, instead of finishing them all in short order, like I would. I mention this partly because we discussed this the last time we met for lunch.

When Schwartz did opened and closed some stores in 1993, the gang was split up a bit. Beverly moved to the Shorewood Schwartz bookshop, where she regularly worked the front desk. She was a cheerleader for Schwartz and bookselling, helping her countless managers (I think there were at least six over the course of the store’s 16 years) both with her dependability, enthusiasm, and sage advice.

And then Schwartz closed. And I asked Beverly if she’d come work for me, thinking she might want to retire. But no, she was up to move a bit farther south, and work a couple of days a week on the floor. We promised we’d put in rubber mats behind the register. And I assured her that there was a special space for her behind the store, as she was a bit worried about parking.

And honestly, I don’t know what I would have done without her. She was such a champion of the store. She just knew Boswell would be a success. And every day that she came, my day (and probably countless others) would be brightened by her enthusiasm.

It was also quite helpful that she continued to know everyone. A customer would make a purchase, and she’d turn to me and say, “You know who that was, don’t you?” And of course I didn’t, and she’d fill me in. It might have been someone who'd been coming into Schwartz for years, or perhaps someone she volunteered with, arranging some sort of fundraiser at the Red Carpet Inn on Howell, back when it was swanky.

I also have no doubt that a number of our customers were drawn to the store to see Beverly. No doubt at all.

Since Beverly took a leave from the store, first due to a health issue, and then because of the death of her beloved husband Shel, we’ve felt the loss of her presence. I chatted with her a few times on the phone, and then had lunch one last time at the Glen Cafe on Green Bay Road.

I’d ask if she wanted to officially retire, and she’d say no, she was thinking about coming back when she felt up to it. Perhaps she was worried that if she officially retired, we’d have had a party for her. I’m not sure. But I think it made both of us happy to have her still on the roster, her staff recs filled with newer favorites like Julia Stuart’s The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise and old classics like Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking. Boy did we sell a ton of Home Cooking back at the Book Nook.

She will be greatly missed by a lot of people, not just her family, her friends, and her coworkers, but pretty much anyone who met her.

I’ll add information about funeral arrangements and perhaps a place to make donations in Beverly’s name as soon as I have more information.

15 comments:

Rebecca said...

I am so sorry to read this. Bev was a wonderful bookseller and member of the community. We had lots of fun pondering how to run the cash register, much to Daniel's chagrin, I'm sure. I remember people standing in her line at the Shorewood bookshop, and when you would beckon them over to your line, they would just shake their heads and look at Bev. They wanted her to ring up their sales. She knew everyone's name (or close to it -- she called me Rachel all the time), and she remembered what they read and what was important to them. She was a good egg and a smart cookie, and I will miss her voice.

Stefanie said...

I am SO sorry to read this--I loved talking with her, whether at the Whitefish Bay Schwartz store, the Shorewood Schwartz store, or at Boswell's...I was definitely one of the people who refused to move over to a shorter line. She would always ask after the kids, my parents, and what was going on with me--and she really wanted to hear the answers to her questions!! And she always had something interesting to say about one or another book I had selected. I will miss her.

Liz Miller said...

I'm sad to find out about this. Beverly was unique and wonderful! I ran into her in Sendik's Whitefish Bay about a year ago and even though I hadn't been a bookseller for a long time and had moved out of state, she remembered me and asked pertinent questions. Then I saw her talking with some other people in the store and realized she really did know EVERYONE. Farewell, Beverly.

LM said...

I'm so sorry for you loss and Beverly's family and friend's loss. I will miss seeing her as indeed she was a fixture at 'my' store in Shorewood. I was happy to see her at Boswell's. It's so hard to lose a coworker - I hope everyone is hanging in there...

Nancy from HWS/Brookfield said...

Beverly from the Book Nook-->HWS bookseller extraordinaire, vibrant, classy, knowledgable, friendly, fun/ny. What a special & loving tribute to her, Daniel.

myra poe said...

oh, i'm sorry. she was a lovely lady and a pleasure to talk to. as a bookseller at the downer schwartz, i didn't get much interaction with her, but what i did was always quality. rest in peace, bev.

StacieMichelle said...

I've missed seeing Bev since she had to step away from the store as she was one of my favorite people to work with. It was always a treat and a pleasure to hear her voice when she'd call in every so often. Warm, gregarious, sharper than a tack even if technology befuddled her, she was always kind and generous, and very very funny. It was an honor and a pleasure to work with and get to know her over the years. We will continue to miss her so very much.

StacieMichelle said...

I've missed seeing Bev since she had to step away from the store as she was one of my favorite people to work with. It was always a treat and a pleasure to hear her voice when she'd call in every so often. Warm, gregarious, sharper than a tack even if technology befuddled her, she was always kind and generous, and very very funny. It was an honor and a pleasure to work with and get to know her over the years. We will continue to miss her so very much.

Colleen said...

I am so sad to hear this. I fondly remember working with Bev at the Shorewood Schwartz store. She always spoke her mind yet had kind words for everyone.

Colleen said...

I'm so sad to learn this today. I fondly remember working with Bev at the Shorewood store. She always spoke her mind yet had kind words for everyone.

Katie H said...

Bev was the real deal. She knew books and she knew people. She always looked absolutely fabulous in her signature black turtleneck(s)and stylish accessories. Just hearing her say "Hello!" or "See you soon!" to a customer, you knew the world was going to be ok, come what may. I am thankful I had the opportunity to work alongside her for several years at the Shorewood bookstore. Katie H.

Nick Berg said...

9Incredibly sweet. Very well said, Daniel. Rest in peace, Bev.

Tom Holbrook said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this. Whenever we stop in at Starbucks on the weekend, our kids ask if we can check to see if Beverly is back at work next door. They will be so sad to hear about this, and we will miss seeing her and getting book advice from her. Among other things, she turned us on to Donna Leon and Louise Penny mysteries, something for which we will be forever grateful.

Olivia H. said...

I am so sad to hear this. We all loved Beverly. From the time we started bringing our daughter, and then later our son, to the Shorewood store for storytime, so remembered us and them by name and always made it a point to stop and chat and remark about how the kids had grown. Daniel is right when he says that people came into the store just to see her. We followed her to Boswell's and have missed her presence there. It is a loss for us all.

Anonymous said...

I am very saddened. I knew Bev at Schwartz and felt as if she was a good friend. When I moved to the Catholic Home, I was pleased that Boswell was as near as Schwartz had been when I was in Shorewood--and happy also that Beverly came along. I can't buy as many books as I used to, but I still enjoy visiting the store and knew Beverly was no longer working regular hours. I do miss her.

Peg S.