Judy Noyes embodied the spirit of making Colorado Springs a better place to live.
She and her husband, Dick, were best known as owners and operators of the popular Chinook Bookshop downtown for 45 years, until it closed in 2004.
But as a Colorado Springs city councilwoman, a staunch downtown advocate and a proponent of the arts, culture, open space and the environment, Noyes also gained a reputation as a caring community member and civic leader - strong-willed in her beliefs, yet friendly and gracious in her dealings with friends, colleagues and even ideological opponents.
"She was a tiny person, but absolutely enormous in intellect, her heart and her commitment to the community," architect and longtime friend Michael Collins said of the diminutive Noyes, who was barely 5 feet tall, if that.
Noyes died Friday of heart failure, according to family members. She was 81.
"She was just such a delightful human being," said former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace. "She was so smart. She had interests in so many different things. It was fun to have a conversation with her. She was very conscientious and very concerned with people and always wanting to do the right thing for people."
Judith Mitchell Noyes was born in New Haven, Conn., and graduated from Vassar College in New York State in 1953, according to an obituary notice. She married her college sweetheart, Dick Noyes, who attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut, on Oct. 10, 1953.
A newspaper and radio journalist, Judy was home with the couple's two daughters in the late 1950s while Dick was often on the road in his job as a sales representative for Rand McNally textbooks, maps and globes.
Seeking a lifestyle change to bring the family together, while also allowing Judy to tap her academic and journalism training and Dick to use his publishing experience, the Noyeses decided to open a bookstore. Based on Dick's research, they targeted Colorado Springs because of its growth potential, military installations and high education level.
The Chinook Bookshop opened on June 15, 1959, on Tejon Street in the heart of downtown.
Chinook became one of the largest independent bookstores in the state and the Rocky Mountain region. At one time, it had as many as 70,000 to 80,000 book titles, and was known for its knowledgeable staff and willingness to special order books.
Richard Skorman, a downtown businessman and former vice mayor, said Chinook served as the "harbinger of intellectual life" in the community for decades. The Noyeses were advocates for freedom of speech and helped lead the way on rights for gays and lesbians, he said.
Citing a sour economy, competition from big-box stores and online services and a desire to retire, the Noyeses closed the doors on Chinook on June 15, 2004, 45 years to the day it opened.