Sue Lubeck, a longtime Denver bookstore owner who championed reading for children, died July 8 from leukemia. She was 87.
Lubeck, who owned The Bookies Bookstore started the business in the basement of her home, in part, so that children could experience the magic of reading and books, according to the store’s website.
“She filled her home basement with children’s books and opened her doors,” the website said. “Soon, the books were joined by teaching resources and they all spilled into the hallway, then the living room, and into the bedrooms!”
After about 10 years, and with no room to grow, the business moved into commercial space, eventually landing at 4315 E. Mississippi Ave., where a seemingly always smiling Lubeck was known to work the floor and thrill children with her passion for reading.
Lubeck and her staff nurtured a reputation for hands-on, personalized service, and Bookies had a weekly readings day at the store, where parents brought in toddlers for 30 minutes of storybook time with a staffer. The bookstore celebrates its 50th anniversary this weekend,
“Whenever I ask a parent if they read to their children growing up and they say yes, I then ask them if they were good students,” Lubeck told The Denver Post in a 2014 story. “The answer is always yes, so there’s a direct correlation.”
Lubeck was born and raised in Denver. A graduate of East High School, she majored in pre-professional social work at the University of Michigan, where she met her soon to be husband Marvin. Together they raised three boys, David, Daniel and Robert. Marvin died in 2011.
Robert Lubeck has memories, “both good and bad,” of his mom running the business out of the family’s home.
“She could never say ‘no’ to someone,” Rob Lubeck recalled. “We’d be sitting down to diner and someone would knock on the door looking for a ‘quick birthday gift.’ Steam would be coming out of my father’s ears. She always put the need of customers and teachers as number one. It brought her a huge amount of pleasure, she lived and breathed the store. That was her living and her passion.”
The Bookies Bookstore, with over 100,000 titles for children and adults, was owned and operated by Lubeck until her death.
“She left the earth still owning the store, she got her wish,” Rob Lubeck said.
The Bookies is having a 50th anniversary party from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. There will be a sidewalk sale, grab bags for purchase, clearance on demo games, live entertainment and prize giveaways.
“The 50th anniversary, we wanted her to be here,” said Luke Henderson, a marketing employee who coordinates store events. “In a lot of ways, we are trying to be as hearty as we can, that is what she would want. Still, it’s pretty hard. This was losing a friend, and a maternal figure, for a lot of us.”
Lubeck’s family plans to sell the business, hopefully to someone local and independent who will carry on the legacy, Robert Lubeck said.
A celebration of Lubeck’s life will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, at the Washington Park Boat House, 701 S. Franklin St., Denver. The family asks that anyone attending to RSVP on Facebook.
Memorial contributions may be made to The Anchor Center for Blind Children; Friends of Man Charity Center; or Food Bank of the Rockies.
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