Diane Bethune (1935-2024)

It was with very heavy hearts that we said goodbye this past week to our beloved friend, Di Bethune. She passed away peacefully in the early hours of Wednesday, March 13 and will be missed terribly.

Di was a lifelong booklover, a passionate reader, and an irreplaceable member of our bookstore family. She was incredibly kind and caring, exhibiting a sharp, quick wit, often when you were least expecting it. She adored dogs and always delighted in visits from our canine customers, even following some human customers out onto the sidewalk so she could greet their four-legged companions with lots of love and a biscuit. Bookstore dogs, Tika and Dickon, of course also received many Di pats and cookies over the years. Both felt quite at home curled up on Di’s lap and were always quick to stake their claim whenever she sat down.

Children’s literature was another of Di’s great passions. She loved reading all the newest children’s books and was an expert at putting the right book in the right child’s hands. Her expertise certainly didn’t end there, though. Di was also a voracious reader of mysteries, fiction, and non-fiction and was a master at hand-selling her favourite reads. Here at the store, we always had to make sure we stocked up on whatever Di’s latest pick was as she would undoubtedly continue hand-selling it long after she had left work for the day. A book with Di’s stamp of approval was always guaranteed to become a Books on Beechwood bestseller! This talent extended beyond our store, of course, and was always in evidence during her many years volunteering with the Rockcliffe Park Library Book Sale and the Rockcliffe Park Public School Book Fair, her time working at The Bookery, a children’s bookshop on Sussex Drive, and while running no fewer than two second-hand bookstores of her own with her husband, Don.

Working with Di was always such a joy! Whether you were sorting books at the library sale, discovering rare treasures in among book donations at Book Fair, or learning the ins and outs of working retail, she always led with kindness and had an infinite amount of patience with those just finding their footing. Her knowledge of all things book-related was extensive, and she was always so happy to share what she knew with others. Despite all her teaching, though, there were times when all her colleagues wanted to do was stand back and watch Di at work. Witnessing the way she handled a store full of eager customers was truly incredible! Even more so when bookstore co-founder, Jean Barton was by her side – the two of them together made the perfect team!

We’ve all enjoyed so many wonderful moments with Di over the years. From chance meetings around the neighbourhood to volunteering together at a book sale, playing games at staff Christmas parties to simply working alongside her in the store. Every moment was special and we’re all so grateful for the time we got to spend with her. There was work, of course, and some serious moments, but there was also lots of laughter and fun. Di was a wonderful bookseller, a great colleague, and a very special friend. We are all better people for having known her, and we will miss her everyday.

Sending all our love to the Bethune family at this difficult time, and our heartfelt thanks to Di’s children, Margot and Andrew, for sharing their lovely Mum with us for so many years.

— The Staff at Books on Beechwood

Memorial service arrangements and Di’s obituary can be found here.