Anna H. Leatherwood, 52, children's book saleswoman

March 29, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Anna H. Leatherwood, who as a sales associate at the Children's Bookstore helped youngsters discover the world of books, died Sunday of breast cancer at her home in Hunt Valley. She was 52.

She had worked at the store on Deepdene Road in Roland Park from 1987 until she was diagnosed with cancer in 1992.

"It was curious how I came to hire her," said JoAnn Fruchtman, owner of the bookstore, which was founded near the Cross Street Market in the late 1970s and moved to Roland Park in 1986.

"Our children were at Park School together and she came by my home one day and asked about my collection of children's books. When I told her that was my business she said she adored children's books. I gave her some galleys of books to read and she returned the next day having read them with notes that she had made in the margins.

"I then asked if she'd like a job, and she said, 'You'd pay me?' and I said yes. She was so excited," Mrs. Fruchtman said.

She marveled at Mrs. Leatherwood's ability to recall topics and books when customers came into the store. Customers also were drawn by her Southern accent and gentle demeanor, Mrs. Fruchtman said.

"She was an extremely generous person and, if a child came into the store and couldn't afford to buy a book, she'd spend her own money and buy it for them," Mrs. Fruchtman said. "Anna certainly touched a lot of people."

Said Jenny Williams, who has worked at the store five years: "She was a super saleswoman as far as books were concerned. She even sold a book to the guy who came in and robbed the store.

"He came in and she was slightly nervous and suspicious. After selling him a book he held up the store," Ms. Williams said.

"She also was an inspiration to us for the way she handled her illness -- she was so graceful and so brave," Ms. Williams said.

Born Anna Hagy in Durham, N.C., she moved with her family to Maryland during her high school years. She graduated from Mount Airy High School in 1960 and earned a bachelor's degree from Towson State University in 1964 and a master's in education from the University of Maryland in 1973.

"She really discovered C. S. Lewis and his works while she was in college, and I think he was one of her favorite authors. I know that she was very fond of his fantasy, 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,' " said Mrs. Fruchtman. She said Mrs. Leatherwood also enjoyed J. R. R. Tolkien's ring cycle.

Mrs. Leatherwood collected children's books and was active in Al-Anon family groups for many years.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at St. John's Episcopal Church, 3738 Butler Road, Glyndon.

Survivors include her husband of 34 years, Robert W. Leatherwood; a son, David Leatherwood of New York City; a daughter, Anna Nichols of Hunt Valley; a brother, Joseph Hagy of Williamsburg, Va.; a sister, Sarah Volker of Atlanta; and a granddaughter.

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