Owner of 3rd St. Books loved holidays, festival

MARYSVILLE – Darilee Bednar loved holidays: Christmas, Halloween, the Strawberry Festival…

Yes, she treated the festival like a holiday. She would have dozens of people over, and they would surround her 3rd Street Books store with chairs and eat barbecue. Since they were at the end of the parade, some would hold signs saying, “Performance Please.” Even though the acts were tired by then, most would oblige.

“It was parade central here,” said her brother, Michael Cordray of Marysville.

She had rules. Such as when a U.S. flag went by you stood up and took off your hat. And if you made enough noise so all three Marysville princesses looked you’re way you were celebrated. And if you saw someone you know, “You embarrass the heck out of them,” Michael added.

Darilee died of cancer March 2 at age 69, but to honor her wishes, her family is planning one more big bash for the festival. The family hopes to keep the business open until then, but likely will shut it down soon after.

“We all want to keep it open,” daughter Rachel Nanfito of Everett said, but no family wants to take over the financially challenged business.

With so many books bought online, “It’s a dying breed now,” Michael said.

As for the other holidays, at Christmas the family would put up a huge village in front of the store.

“It took forever to put together,” Rachel said. “It was brutal moving everything.”

Daughter Erin Smith of Marysville added, “But some people would come in just to see it.”

At Halloween, Darilee loved to dress up. Last Oct. 31 she was giving out candy at the store as a witch, even though she hadn’t been working because she was sick.

The business was a family affair. All the kids worked there. Asked if they got paid, Erin loudly said, “No.”

But youngest daughter Virginia McVey of Marysville chimed in, “I did.” She made $5 an hour once she got into high school.

In more-recent years, Darilee would watch her eight grandbabies in the store. She loved all kids, giving out Dum Dum suckers to every child, especially if they were well-behaved.

Darilee always wanted to be a librarian, but she ended up owning the bookstore instead. The sisters remember the first one, which was just a little ways away. When they moved to the current location, “We used shopping carts to move the books down the street,” Rachel said.

Darilee was always reading, especially science fiction and mysteries. She tried to instill that same love with others, but it didn’t always take. “She was after everybody to read,” Michael said. “I’m not a reader.”

He said his wife, however, is a reader, but she brought in romance novels to trade.

“Darilee would just roll her eyes,” her brother said. “She was not a romance fan.”

Erin agreed. Her mom would tease her for reading “Sweet Valley High” books. “She called them ‘kissy face books,’” Erin said.

Virginia remembers when she went to Shoultes grade school to celebrate a birthday her mom took her to a wholesale store in Arlington. They bought books for all the kids in her class. Her mom was always donating books to schools.

Darilee loved taking the family on road trips to buy books. The kids eventually started to outsmart her by saying, “It’s Closed,” when they drove by a bookstore.

When she found out they were fibbing, she exploded, Rachel said. “How long have you been doing this?” she asked them.

Darilee would buy boxes of books. Often they were surprised when they emptied them.

“There would be the weirdest stuff – old artifacts and random pictures,” Rachel said.

She also was very involved in the community. “She was a very giving person,” Michael said. Erin added, “She was a Renaissance woman, had an eye for art. And she would help anyone.”

She was involved with foster care, foreign exchange students, special needs kids and so many more, her family said. Life Skills kids from schools would work in the bookstore to “teach them to be productive in a business setting,” Erin said.

“Darilee was always picking up strays,” Michael said. “They were her ‘add ons.’ Just call me Grammie,” she would say.

Brother Michael had a special relationship with Darilee, who was 18 months older. When he was 11, he had brain surgery and wasn’t expected to live. Michael credits his sister with being his “caretaker who saved my life.”

Darilee and her husband, Martin, loved to travel, going to all 50 states. She was quite the character, often seen riding her trike to work. She taught genealogy at the senior center. And she built a website called Faces from the Wall to honor those who served in the Vietnam War. Darilee also loved playing video games, like World of Warcraft. When the makers of “Guild Wars” found out she was sick with cancer, they sent her flowers.

The family said Darilee had been sick for sometime, but wasn’t diagnosed with cancer until June 15. She had chemotherapy and surgery. She was making plans for this year’s Strawberry Festival party but her health went downhill.

“It happened so quickly, a lot earlier” than expected, Michael said. “It was like overnight” and she was in a coma.

A memorial is being planned for April.

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