I just learned that Pat Cody died peacefully in her sleep on September 30.
Pat was a remarkable woman who inspired me during my 30 years at Cody’s. Pat and Fred Cody founded the store in 1956. Fred was an incredibly charismatic man and a visionary. But it was Pat who conducted most of the hard business at the store.
Pat always thought of herself as a tough minded business person. She used to say that she learned it from studying at the London School of Economics. But I think she would have been pretty shrewd even without that advanced degree.
When I bought the store from the Cody’s in 1977, I was 30 years old and didn’t know all that much. Pat was always available for advice, but was extremely sensitive about imposing her ideas on me. She usually said that it was my store now, and I should run it my way. But she was always there for Cody’s milestone events.
I made the decision to close the Telegraph store in the spring of 2006. (The last day of business for the store was July 10 of that year, a day after Cody’s 50th birthday). Everything happening at that time was hard for me, but the hardest thing was having to tell Pat that the store would be closing. I’d been in the book business long enough not to have to seek Pat’s approval. After all, I had owned the store many years longer than the Cody’s had owned it. I was older than Pat was at the time that she left Cody’s. But when I called her, I felt like a kid who had just cracked up the family car. When I told her we were closing, Pat was silent for about two seconds. (It felt like an hour.). And then she said: “It’s remarkable you were able to keep it going as long as you did.” Typical of Pat, this was not a ponderous pronouncement about Cody’s place in history. It was a very commonplace observation. But it was the one thing that I needed to hear at that time. And it gave me a feeling of consolation. That was a very important moment for me. And characteristic of Pat’s decency.
After Cody’s closed in June, 2008 Pat had a party at her house for Cody’s employees. About 30 of us showed up. We sat around in Pat’s back yard. We told a few stories about old times, but mostly we just hung out drinking beer like old friends who had once shared something important in our lives. I remember that it was a nice afternoon.
Leslie and I will think good thoughts about Pat. We offer condolences to her children: Anthony, Nora, Celia, and Martha.
There will be a memorial service for Pat at the First Congregational Church in Berkeley on October 30 at 2:00.
Here are some photographs of Pat.
This is a picture of Pat and Fred at the store. It appears to be from the early 70s.
Pat and Fred with me at the time I became the owner in 1977.
Pat at Cody’s Fiftieth Birthday celebration in 2006. It was a bitter-sweet event. Cody’s on Telegraph was closing the following day.
Tags: andy ross, ask the agent, books, CODY'S, cody's books, pat cody