Remembering Jean Sue Libkind

Jean Sue Johnson Libkind. Photo by Robert Libkind.

Jean Sue Johnson Libkind. Photo by Robert Libkind.

In Memoriam, Jean Sue Johnson Libkind, former marketing manager of the University of Wisconsin Press

JEAN SUE JOHNSON LIBKIND, retired publishing executive and literary agent, died Oct. 17, 2015 at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse, Philadelphia. Mrs. Libkind, 71, had resided in Philadelphia since 1984.

Mrs. Libkind, born in Racine, Wisconsin, operated a literary agency in Philadelphia, the Bookschlepper, representing university and academic publishers in the management of subsidiary rights. After graduation from Park High School in Racine, she earned a bachelor of arts degree in journalism in 1966 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She attended the university on a scholarship from Western Printing of Racine, the publishers of Golden Books, where her father was a staff artist. She also attended summer school at the University of Oslo, Norway. While at the University of Wisconsin, she was managing editor of the student newspaper, the Daily Cardinal. She also served as a board member of the Daily Cardinal Alumni Association.

Before starting her own agency, she was director of publishing operations for the Jewish Publication Society in Philadelphia, and before that worked as a marketing manager for the University of Pennsylvania Press, the University of Georgia Press, and the University of Wisconsin Press. She had also served as managing director of Worldwide Books in Ithaca, New York. Her professional affiliations included Women in Scholarly Publishing, of which she was a founding member, the Philadelphia Publishers Group, Women in Communications, and the Madison Press Club.

She was among the founders and later president of Friends of Eastern State Penitentiary Park, which improved the neglected property outside the walls of the historic prison in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood. While a resident of Madison, Wisconsin, she was president of seven after school day care centers. She was a member of the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship of Athens, Georgia, and was until her recent illness active with the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, including its women’s book club.

She was preceded in death by her son, Eric David Spradling; her father, John B. Johnson; her mother, Jean Barr Johnson; and step-mother, Loretta Richards Johnson. She is survived by her husband, Robert L. Libkind, as well as aunts and cousins in Wisconsin, Alaska and Norway.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the American Heart Association.

Jean Sue has asked that the following be sent to all her friends in the event of her death:

My apologia,

Like a bird on a wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free. 

If I, if I’ve been unkind, I hope that you will just let it go by, and if I, if I have been untrue, I hope you know that it was not to you. 

I saw a man, a beggar leaning on his crutch. He said to me, “Why do you ask for so much?” There was a woman, a woman leaning in a door, She said “Why not, why not, why not ask for more?’

Like a bird on a wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free.

— Leonard Cohen.

Here are some things you’ve heard me say; I call them “GienTsu-isms”—

  • It is not enough to survive. One must do it with a sense of style, a sense of grace and a sense of humor.
  • The mark of a civilization is how it treats its old, its young and its ill. We are barbarians.
  • “If you give a child a love of reading and teach him to read with ease, the child can learn anything.”
  • Romance doesn’t end in a marriage; the love evolves into something far deeper than mere romance with a bit of whimsy emerging every once in a while, just for fun.
  • It is not enough to practice what you preach; you must have the courage to preach what you practice.
  • It’s that damn “Y” chromosome: the leg of the Y gets caught in a man’s ear and he can’t hear what you’re saying.
  • There are twenty people in the world and everything else is done with smoke and mirrors.
  • The good news about the human race is that 99.9% of the people are doing the best they can; the bad news is that 99.9% of the people are doing the best they can.
  • A bird in the hand leaves a messy palm.
  • I earned every one of these wrinkles and gray white hairs.
  • I’m an old woman and I can do what I want.
  • The opinions of those who wish you well matter; the others can go to hell.
  • It is easier to ask for forgiveness than beg for permission.
  • Every time I see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s some damn gnome with a lantern.
  • She’s got Bette Davis eyes; I’ve got Madelyn Albright’s hair.
  • Most policies are like fire hydrants. Everybody wants to leave his/her mark.
  • Subset: There is always a Chihuahua who thinks he is a Great Dane..
  • In case of an emergency, call an ambulance.
  • When the organic material impacts with the ventilating device, have a beer and remember the good times.

With love and affection—Jean Sue

  • Remember: No place is safe: Mrs. Elizabeth Anne Hewelett Hodges, 32, was asleep on the living room couch when a nine-pound meteor came through the roof of her Sulacauga, Alabama house, bounced off the radio and struck her hip (November 30, 1954). She was bruised; the radio did not survive.
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