Friday, February 17, 2012

Wally Gebhard, rest in peace

We are saddened to hear of the death of our colleague, longtime Miami book dealer Wally Gebhard, who had been a fixture at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair for many years. Wally passed away Saturday, March 11. He is remembered as an exemplary and knowledgeable bookseller who relished the thrill of the hunt in seeking remarkable volumes.

“Wally was an ace of book scouts and a knowledgeable book dealer in the Miami area,” says Daniel Adams of Waverly Books in Santa Monica, California. “Somehow he managed over the years to locate only the finest possible copies of collectable titles, despite the daunting challenges the region posed.”

Wally Gebhard at the 2011 Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.
“He was a quiet, gentle man with a dry sense of humor and an encyclopedic knowledge of literature,” says Michael Slicker, of Lighthouse Books, ABAA, in St. Petersburg. “Everybody who knew him liked him.”

 “If you attended the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair you probably spent a good bit of time in his booth,” says David Holloway, former member of the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association and now librarian in the U.S. Patent Office. “His books were always in remarkable condition. His interests were wide ranging, and his prices were gentle.”

Adams remembers him as an accomplished classical guitarist and a knowledgeable authority on Latin American literature. Holloway does, too.

 “Wally was a true autodidact who studied Eastern religions formally, but taught himself to read French and Spanish and was a true connoisseur of Latin American literature — from back in the day when most people said ‘Gabriel Garcia who?’ ” Holloway says.

“Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was being a fully rounded human being, with a warmth of spirit he freely bestowed on those who were fortunate enough to know him,” Adams says. “Making a buck in the book business was the farthest thing from Wally's mind. His offerings at the St. Pete book fair were always a mix of whimsy and profundity. He immersed himself in the book trade because he relished the hunt, and the joy that comes with finding the elusive gem.”

Wally will be remembered for his good humor, his generosity in sharing knowledge and his delight in seeing his books find new homes with collectors or colleagues. He will be greatly missed. You are welcome to leave your recollections of W.B. (Wally) Gebhard below.

1 comment:

  1. Wally was my friend, and I will miss him. I cannot say how many great volumes found their way into my collection from his stores. He was a man after my own heart in dealing with life's little puzzles.