2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
Monday, June 24, 2013

Gazette Premium Content Former Chinook Bookshop owner and councilwoman Judy Noyes dies at 81

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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.

Noyes also was a longtime supporter of downtown, co-chairing the committee that produced the Downtown Action Plan in 1992 - a blueprint for downtown improvements that Noyes once described as her greatest public service contribution.

Along with the late businesswoman Mary Jean Larson, Noyes co-founded the Art on the Streets program, an annual exhibition that showcases the works of artists on downtown streets.

"Judy was an unwavering voice for a strong downtown and thriving community," said Susan Edmondson, president and CEO of the Downtown Partnership advocacy group.

In 2000, Noyes was appointed by the City Council to fill the seat of a council member who had resigned. Noyes then won election to the final two years of that council term.

Noyes thought more about the community, and less about the politics that accompanies an elected position, Skorman said.

"When things would come up, we'd all kind of have a reality check from Judy," Skorman said. "She would keep us all centered on what was good for the community."

In recent years, Noyes was a member of the city's Urban Renewal Authority. She also had been active in numerous organizations, including the Pikes Peak Library District, the Colorado Springs Symphony and the Colorado Springs School.

Noyes is survived by her husband, Dick; daughters Catherine Noyes Boddington (William G.) and Stephanie Noyes Kane, both of Colorado Springs; son Matthew Hall Noyes (Sakiko Ishitsubo) of Tokyo; sister Stephanie M. Berry of Charlottesville, Va., and eight grandchildren.

A memorial service will take place at 1 p.m. Friday at Shove Memorial Chapel, 1010 N. Nevada Ave., on the Colorado College Campus.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Community Ventures for Art on the Streets, in care of the Downtown Partnership; the Pikes Peak Library District Foundation; the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region; and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

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Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228

Twitter @richladen

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