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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Remembering Donnis de Camp

Donnis de Camp, a friend for a dozen years and honored shelver at the library during opening week in June 2004, has died after a long illness. We will miss her. Our thoughts are with her husband Marc.

From her obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Donnis de Camp / Co-owned Squirrel Hill bookstore
Sept. 21, 1951-Jan. 28, 2006

Saturday, February 04, 2006
By Marylynne Pitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Donnis de Camp, co-owner of Schoyer's Books, a used-book store in Squirrel Hill, met her future husband after a poetry reading at St. Peter Church in South Oakland.

Her strategy, she later admitted, was this: "If he's funny and a good poet, I'll introduce myself. But if he's boring and bad, I won't."

Marc Selvaggio made her laugh and a year later, in 1983, the couple married and settled in the South Side Slopes. Ms. de Camp then hosted an afternoon classical music program on WDUQ Radio.

In 1985, the couple purchased Schoyer's Books from Bill and Maxine Schoyer and ran the business on South Negley Avenue.

Ms. de Camp, of Berkeley, Calif., died of ovarian cancer at a hospice Jan. 28 in Alamo, Calif. She was 54.

Her passionate avocations included martial arts, feminist literature, operatic music, travel guides, and flamenco and salsa dancing. She was an ardent feminist who possessed grace, a level head, a velvet voice and an engaging intellect.

Besides running the bookstore, Ms. de Camp wrote the shop's book catalogues on travel literature and women's studies and became especially interested in the Middle East and Asia.

In 1988, Charles Aston, head of special collections at the University of Pittsburgh's libraries, hired Ms. de Camp and her husband to appraise thousands of rare 19th-century fine press books donated to Pitt. Mr. Aston said he will miss Ms. de Camp's "wry sense of humor and openness to the world."

Nick Lane of Point Breeze, a real estate manager and bibliophile originally from Britain, often spent Saturdays at Schoyer's.

"It was a warm and comfortable place. Those who survived the trip down the staircase to the basement could browse happily all day and no one would disturb them. It became almost a refuge," he said.

But half the fun was talking with the owners.

"They were so accommodating. They would stop whatever they were doing and they would talk and they would listen, which was even more important," Mr. Lane said.

In 1996, the couple closed the bookstore and moved to Berkeley, where they sold rare and used books through mail order and at large antiquarian fairs.

Ms. de Camp, who was born in Kansas City, Mo., grew up outside of Philadelphia in Flourtown, Montgomery County. She attended Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School and skipped her senior year because she received early admission to Georgetown University in 1967. She studied French, German and literature and spent semesters in Salzburg, Austria, and Paris. She graduated in 1971 with a bachelor's degree.

Within a year, Ms. de Camp joined B. Dalton Booksellers and managed new stores in Philadelphia and Detroit.

She was promoted to regional manager in Pittsburgh in the late 1970s and moved here to oversee 22 stores, including branches in Philadelphia, West Virginia and Pittsburgh. From 1983 to 1985, she worked as a sales representative for Harcourt Brace, a commercial publisher.

While her cancer was in remission, Ms. de Camp traveled to Spain twice with her husband and studied in Granada, her favorite city.

Besides her husband, she is survived by her parents, Margaret and Verl of Lansdale, Montgomery County; and a sister, Debra Heavens of Santa Cruz, Calif.

Her remains were cremated and a private memorial service will be held in the spring.

Memorials may be made to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, 910 17th Street NW, Suite 412, Washington, DC 20006.


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8:15 AM  
Anonymous M Gilson said...

I finally got on the internet to see what they were doing and now this. This is a kick in the gut.

I lived across the street from Schoyer's and whiled away many an hour in conversation on Spain, tapping her extraordinary knowledge of how collections were best constructed, or perusing her delightfully written catalogs, which were an art form in themselves.

She was always very nice to me and one of those people with her husband who made life worth something.

10:51 PM  

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