Booksellers throughout New Zealand were saddened to hear of the death on Thursday of long time bookseller and stalwart of the trade, Pat O’Sullivan aged 78.
Pat is remembered by many current and former booksellers and publishers as a tireless advocate of the book trade in this country and also a great supporter of individual bookshops, even when they might be in competition with him.
Geoff Grigor owner of the former Timaru bookshop, Chapters and Verses remembers : “My memories of Pat go back to before I was in the book trade and he was running his bookshop in the Royal Arcade in Timaru. When I opened my shop he was very supportive and became a good friend.
Pat became an almost accidental owner of the Plaza Bookshop in Timaru and at one time owned two bookshops there. In 1981 he bought The Merivale Bookshop in Christchurch, selling his two shops in Timaru and moving north.
His long and meritorious service with the book trade institutions began in 1980 when he became a councillor of the Booksellers Association and then a Board member of the newly established Booksellers NZ and its subsidiary Book Tokens Ltd. Pat chaired the association from 1985 to 1987.
Christchurch bookseller Philip King, who succeeded Pat as Chair in 1987 remembers those “heady days of many lively and entertaining meetings at Book House. Pat was a very adept chair…”
Philip particularly remembers Pat’s help during the very festive opening day of his first bookshop in Christchurch at Linwood City when Pat came to help in the back office, counting the cash.
“I have an amazing picture of Pat, with notes of all denominations scattered across my desk, a large smile on his face and holding up fistfuls of cash.”
Ken McIntyre, only partially retired from Auckland University Bookshop was another colleague of Pat’s on the Board in the 1980’s:
“Pat and I spent many times in Wellington and our sharing of the 'caretaker's flat' being the penthouse of the St George Hotel (mostly myself, Philip, Pat and Russell) over a number of years was legendary.”
John Schiff, formerly CEO of Booksellers Association/Booksellers NZ was employed when Pat was President of the Association and said, “Pat was a wonderful employer, with the best interests of the organisation and the staff at heart – he always took a keen interest in the team at Book House and was frequently at the office, working with the late Ann Kerr (Finance Administrator) to deal with technical issues/problems. A true gentleman with the utmost of integrity and a great ambassador for the Book Trade.”
Current Chair of Booksellers NZ, Tony Moores, paid tribute to the great service given by Pat to the New Zealand book industry from the time in 1980 when he became a Booksellers Association Councillor. When the association evolved into Booksellers NZ Inc. he continued as a Board Member.
A requiem mass will be held for Pat tomorrow, Wednesday, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Hill St, Wellington, starting at 1pm.