March 06, 2019

In Memoriam - Cary Heater


Cary Heater passed away at San Francisco General Hospital in the early morning of Thursday, January 31st as a result of complications following a fall and severe head injury on the night of Wednesday, January 16th.

Cary was a Bay Area native, born and raised in San Jose.  She moved to San Francisco in the 80's, in part to escape the South Bay's heat (which she despised). Throughout much of her time in SF she worked as an accountant, ultimately heading the accounting department of a major downtown firm.  In the early 2000's she left that field and went looking for something else.  She found bookselling and never looked back.

She started working with us at Borderlands in 2002.  Initially she was very worried that she wouldn't be a good bookseller because she didn't read widely enough in the field to make good recommendations.  But, with a little encouragement, she quickly grew into the role.  Over time, Cary took over many of the administrative duties at the store and was an absolutely vital part of Borderlands' success.

On a personal level, Cary and I were friends for 27 years.  We meet dancing in nightclubs around town and became close friends.  Our friendship persisted and grew through multiple career changes, life crises, triumphs and defeats.  She was my oldest friend.

She also counted among her friends many fellow booksellers, authors, artists and, above all, customers.  We will be gathering to celebrate her life on Friday, February 8th, from 7 pm to 11 pm at Borderlands Books.  We hope that you will be able to join us.

It was her wish that she be cremated and there will be no service.  If you wish to make a donation to charity in Cary's name, I'd like to suggest the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (  Had Cary survived her injury, that organization's support would have been crucial to helping her manage the financial consequences.

Cary had no surviving family but I don't think she ever felt alone in the world.  She had a family that she chose in the staff and customers of Borderlands.  There had never been anything in her life that she loved more than bookselling.  We are all grateful that she chose us.

- Alan Beatts

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