In the morning shortly after the Boulder Book Store opened, David Bolduc sat in the office of his beloved friend, Buster Keenan, reminiscing about the impact he had had on those around him.
“For all his adorable features, he couldn’t get rid of anything,” Bolduc, the bookstore owner, joked as he walked through Keenan’s cluttered office.
Keenan died March 31 at his home in Boulder. He was part of the Boulder Book Store family for more than 30 years, joining the team in 1988. He previously lived with his family on a farm in western Oklahoma and later attended Oklahoma State University. He moved from Oklahoma to Colorado in search of inspiration in the mountains. Keenan sought more than a provincial life and began working at the bookstore where he quickly fell in love with the profession.
“The Boulder Book Store won’t be the same without him. And you know, since we were together beyond the bookstore, it’s just missing a friend, ”said Mary McDaniel, a retired teacher, current substitute and close friend of Keenan.
Many of Keenan’s friends couldn’t describe him in a brief summary, as Bolduc said Keenan possessed a combination of traits.
“It was so many different things. It wasn’t just like, ‘Oh, he was a nice guy.’ He was a nice guy, we did a lot of things together, he was extremely good at looking after our systems at the store, looking after people and baking cookies all the time in our kitchen that people loved. it has this other quality of clutter, of extreme clutter,” Bolduc joked again.
Boulder Book Store employees have all described Keenan as helpful, both inside and outside the work environment.
“You could come to Buster with any problem and he would really try to work it out,” said Arsen Kashkashian, senior buyer and general manager of Boulder Book Store.
Keenan was committed to improving the store in every way possible and went above and beyond because he understood the value of an independent bookstore. From finding books to buy, to keeping the fort up to being the go-to handyman in an old building, he was a man of many talents.
“We’re in a very old building, it’s over 140 years old or something like that,” Bolduc said. “And it was in constant need of repairs and maintenance. It was just us – I hold the flashlight, or he holds the flashlight and I do this. It was like two guys doing this thing together. He had a kind of, I don’t know, ancient quality to it. You know – go out and do this with your brother.
Keenan’s friends had no shortage of stories involving his sense of humor or his love of social events.
Kashkashian recalled a memory that still makes him laugh – spending a weekend together in New York for a booksellers’ conference. Kashkashian said one of the gifts the publisher gave them was a locked box with a prize inside. Numbers to unlock the box were going to be announced in the following days, but Keenan couldn’t wait, Kashkashian described.
“Buster tries every number,” Kashkashian said. “So finally, at 11:30 p.m. at night, I was like, ‘Buster, I need to sleep, you can’t keep doing this. So I think he went to the bathroom. So when I woke up in the morning it was open, he figured it out. It’s just kind of the toughness he brought to the store.
McDaniel worked at the Boulder Book Store in 1992 for around 11 years, where she met Keenan and connected with him over their love of music. They remained close friends, sharing happy hours and discussing the latest happenings at the bookstore.
“We went to many music festivals; we have been to RockyGrass a lot in Lyon. We would go to shows at the Boulder Theater and Fox and he always loved to dance,” McDaniel said.
Through his friends and loved ones, Keenan’s legacy is one of compassion, generosity and, of course, a love of literature.
“In any circumstance like this, you kind of revisit the painful parts, the irritating parts, the loving parts and the helpful parts,” Bolduc said.
Buster Keenan Memorial
The Boulder Book Store is hosting a celebration of Buster Kennan’s life on the evening of May 22. Email [email protected] if you want to share photos or stories about Keenan. RSVP with the link eventbrite.com/e/celebration-of-life-for-buster-keenan-tickets-315614189537.