Longtime and well-loved Stenhouse employee Chandra Lowe passed away on October 16th after a long illness.
Chandra began her Stenhouse career as a temporary employee in the Customer Service department. As a book lover and a great supporter of teachers, Chandra took to the work immediately and began building an encyclopedic knowledge of Stenhouse titles.
She particularly loved working in the booth at conferences; she declared herself a “conference geek.” After a series of promotions, Chandra settled in to her dream job of conference organizer and author liaison. “Chandra made her mark with her dedication to the job, her grasp of the big picture and the small details, and especially her keen wit,” said Dan Tobin, Stenhouse publisher. “She loved wining and dining authors and they loved her. It was the same with customers. She remembered many of them by name and made specific recommendations based on their grade level and interests. Several customers came to the booth to see Chandra first and then to scout out the new titles.”
Before every event, Chandra prepared an email for staff titled something like “Everything you need to know about NCTE 2016.” These notes were as entertaining as they were informative, covering everything from airport transportation to restaurant recommendations. Chandra was a wonderful writer with a unique voice.
One of the emails began: “Yes, I’m technically on vacation through Tuesday, but I wanted to get this out to you earlier than that. I am answering the basic questions here, but for any more immediate or unanswered questions, text is best during the show: Now, on to my usual breakdown (someone give me a beat) ….”
In describing our booth space one year, Chandra wrote: “We have a pretty A+ spot—I’m going to pretend it’s because I whined so well about us ‘anchoring the corner’ last year.”
In another she wrote: “The booth is located at #405/504, and this year we ended up with an island (all four sides facing aisles), so we’re going to (can’t help it) BUILD THAT WALL, which is to say, erect a back curtain and shelving so we have some storage, space for electrical hookups, etc.”
Stenhouse colleagues offered these memories of Chandra. Please add your own thoughts in the comments section below:
“Chandra had the unique gift of creating a sense of belonging for those around her. As a new author, Chandra welcomed me to Stenhouse with her deep respect for the work of teachers, her sidesplitting humor and her keen ability to recommend an excellent cocktail at dinner. Over the years, Chandra became a dear friend to me as she was to so many and she will be truly missed.”
—Kassia Wedekind, Editor
“Chandra truly loved her job and took pride in her work, from working with her beloved authors to arranging our book displays with painstaking detail and care. I’ve never met anyone who was so gracious in facing adversity and so committed to doing her best through the end. Her humor, indomitable spirit, and dedication to creating a welcoming Stenhouse presence at our trade shows is something that we continue to miss. Stenhouse feels emptier without her.”
—Faye LaCasse, Vice President of Marketing
“Chandra started at Stenhouse working for me in customer service. I knew immediately she was sharp, great with people and had a future with Stenhouse--and humorous. My favorite memory of Chandra was her weekly “quote of the day” Typically posted on her office wall, it would either be derived from a call with a customer or a staff comment and with a little comedic editorializing from Chandra thrown in. The quote would stick with us for days. She will be greatly missed.”
—Elaine Cyr, Customer Service Manager
“Chandra's wit and delightful storytelling made it very hard to share an office with her--or, more precisely, to get anything done. She was much funnier, much more entertaining than any editorial tasks that needed my attention. During that time of office-sharing, I just listened and laughed as she lit up my days.”
—Toby Gordon, former Senior Editor
“Chandra was a unique force of wit and intellect and hard work all rolled into one. We could all be around the conference table discussing the most mundane of projects, and Chandra would find something in it for us to laugh about. She was such a big part of our work and our fun that the two became the same. She will be truly missed.”
—Jay Kilburn, Senior Production Manager
“Chandra was beloved by colleagues and authors alike, as we always knew how much she cared about people and about Stenhouse. She made us laugh – with her quick wit and sometimes caustic sarcasm – and she made us think. Her dedication to her work was legendary, her knowledge of great books unmatched, and her kindness boundless. She handled all our conference arrangements with aplomb and grace, and we knew we could turn to her with questions or concerns. Chandra always made sure no one was left without dinner plans in every city we visited, and she was an excellent restaurant and party venue selector. She earned our respect, admiration, and deep affection, and she will be sorely missed.”
—Maureen Barbieri, Editor
“When I first met with Chandra after the announcement that SDE and Stenhouse would be merging operations, we hit it off immediately because we were both “conference people.” I knew immediately that we would get along when she quipped (in what I learned over time was her trademark sarcasm), ‘You better not expect me to go to Vegas,’ (which is where the SDE National Conference takes place every year). We laughed about it and agreed that as long as other key trade shows took place in July, she would focus on those. Chandra was so passionate about her work – she had a true love for the travel and the booth design. She insisted upon doing the booth setup herself, even as her health declined, because she took such pride in it. We will always ask ourselves, ‘Where would Chandra put this title?’ when we set up displays in the future.”
—Emily Hawkins, Stenhouse/SDE General Manager
“Chandra’s sense of humor, her powerful organizational and writing skills, and her remarkable ability, in conference cities unknown, to seek out the perfect spot for a great party, were all legendary. Stenhouse was so fortunate that she came our way and made herself such a central member of the team. She will be hugely missed.”
—Philippa Stratton, Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Stenhouse
"Whether she was playing grand hostess for an enormous gathering or just responding to a quick email, Chandra had a way of making you feel like you were the only person that mattered. From shared looks to perfectly worded (and often sarcastic) texts to inside jokes and an unmatched ability to break into song at the slightest provocation, she made you feel like you had a connection with her no one else had. She was an instant friend who filled the room - and our hearts - with light and love."
—Terry Thompson, Editor
"Chandra and I shared a bond that's hard to describe. We both were diagnosed with a serious illness around the same time. I was given a "curable" prognosis, and she was not, so in some very important ways, our paths were different from the outset. But we both knew what it was like to go to public, social conferences with a bald head. We both knew what it was like to take solace in work when we could, and to take a break from work when we just couldn't. We would go long stretches where we wouldn't talk about our illnesses or treatments, and then we'd come together and talk in the shorthand of fellow patients. We had the best talks in the car, driving to or from a conference, or carpooling to the Stenhouse office. We'd talk about big, emotional things such as how it felt to be reminded of our illnesses in a moment where we'd manage to forget them, yet somehow, we'd still end up laughing in shared understanding. As everyone has said, she was hilarious and sarcastic, and also generous, kind, and big-hearted. My favorite memory of Chandra was listening to her talk about the pleasure she took in taking teacher/authors out for a nice dinner. She spoke with great passion about how much teachers are worth, and how teachers aren't valued enough in our society, and how much joy it brought her to treat teachers right. I'm raising a glass in her honor tonight--I'm sure she'd approve, if it is a good enough cocktail!"
—Tracy Zager, Editor