In the morning hours, shortly after the Boulder Book Store opened its doors, David Bolduc sat in the office of his beloved friend, Buster Keenan, remembering the impact he had on those around him.
“Despite all his cute features, he couldn’t get rid of anything,” Bolduc, the bookstore owner, joked as he toured Keenan’s cluttered office.
Keenan died March 31 at his home in Boulder. He was in the Boulder Book Store family for over 30 years, joining the team in 1988. He previously lived with his family on a farm in western Oklahoma and then attended Oklahoma State University. He moved from Oklahoma to Colorado in search of inspiration within the mountains. Keenan sought more than a provincial life and began working at the bookstore where he quickly fell in love with the profession.
“The Boulder bookstore is not going to be the same without him. And you know, since we were together beyond the bookstore, there’s just one friend missing,” said Mary McDaniel, a retired teacher, current substitute and close friend of Keenan.
Many of Keenan’s friends were unable to describe him in a short summary, as Bolduc expressed that Keenan possessed a combination of traits.
“It was so many different things. It wasn’t just like, ‘Oh, he was a good guy.’ He was a good guy, we did a lot of things together, he was extremely proficient at taking care of our systems in the store, taking care of people, and baking cookies all the time in our kitchen that people loved. And then he has this other quality of messiness, extreme messiness,” Bolduc joked again.
Boulder Book Store employees described Keenan as helpful, both in and out of the work environment.
“You could come to Buster with any problem and he would really try to solve it,” said Arsen Kashkashian, lead buyer and general manager of the Boulder Book Store.
Keenan dedicated himself to improving the bookstore in every way he could and went above and beyond because he understood the value of an independent bookstore. From searching for books to buy to maintaining the fort by being the handyman on an old building, he was a man of many talents.
“We’re in a very old building, it’s over 140 years old or something,” Bolduc said. “And it constantly needed repair and maintenance. It was just us: I was holding the flashlight, or he was holding the flashlight and I was doing this. So it was like two guys doing these things together. It had a kind of, I don’t know, ancient quality. You know, go out and do that with your brother.”
Keenan’s friends were not short of stories to do with his sense of humor or his love of social events.
Kashkashian recalled a memory that still makes him laugh: spending a weekend together in New York for a booksellers’ conference. Kashkashian said that one of the gifts the publisher gave them was a locked box with an award inside. The numbers to unlock the box would be announced in the coming days, but Keenan couldn’t wait, Kashkashian described.
“Buster is testing all the numbers,” Kashkashian said. “So finally at 11:30 at night I was like, ‘Buster, I need to sleep, you can’t do this anymore.’ So I think he went to the bathroom. So when I woke up in the morning it was open, he had figured it out. That’s just the tenacity that he brought to the store.”
McDaniel worked at the Boulder Book Store in 1992 for approximately 11 years, where he met Keenan and connected with him over his love of music. They remained close friends, sharing happy hours and chatting about the latest bookstore events.
“We went to a lot of music festivals; We used to go to RockyGrass in Lyons a lot. We would go to shows at the Boulder Theater and the Fox and she always loved dancing,” McDaniel said.
Through his friends and loved ones, Keenan’s legacy is one of compassion, generosity and, of course, a love of literature.
“In any kind of circumstance like this, you revisit the painful parts, the irritating parts, the loving parts, and the helpful parts,” Bolduc said.
Buster Keenan Memorial
The Boulder Bookstore is hosting a celebration of the life of Buster Kennan on the evening of May 22nd. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to share photos or stories about Keenan. RSVP with the link eventbrite.com/e/celebration-of-life-for-buster-keenan-tickets-315614189537.