In this November 2016 photo, Dee Longenbaugh, longtime owner of The Observatory bookstore, talks about operating the store for nearly 40 years. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

In this November 2016 photo, Dee Longenbaugh, longtime owner of The Observatory bookstore, talks about operating the store for nearly 40 years. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Remembering Dee Longenbaugh: Readers share their stories

Dee kept up with the history of my family, and I really appreciated our talks when I went to Alaska. I am indebted to her, and people like her, who keep history alive. She also helped me to find some of the almost forgotten songs and recipes of my people, to keep them in my memory. Dee could entertain you for hours. She will be missed. Best wishes to her family.

— Alex Kashevaroff

I lived in Juneau 2010-12 and loved to visit the Observatory and browse. On one visit I found a unique book about Captain Cook published by the University of London. Captain Cook is my ultimate hero so I begged Dee to sell me that book. She wouldn’t sell it, said it was too meaningful to her. That began a warm conversation about our experiences in London. My son was then studying at the University of London in the same neighborhood that Dee had recently visited. As we talked on and on about London’s quirkiness I sensed she was melting a bit. So before leaving I tried once again. “Dee, please sell me the book.” Her reply was a clear “No!” as she turned back to her work. But I as I left I glanced back and caught a sweet smile. That encounter with Dee was much more valuable than the book. It was a moment of connection with a truly interesting human being.

— Steve Kimball

I first met Dee almost 40 years ago. I was a young reporter in Petersburg, just off the ferry from Pier 48 in Seattle. Somehow I was invited to a public radio potluck at the Longenbaugh family home in Sitka harbor. I don’t remember the event or who else was there, but I sure remember Dee – the twinkle in her eye, her extraordinary curiosity and her quirky charm. And of course, the books and the maps. Flash forward a couple of decades, and there’s Dee reviewing books on Morning Edition on KTOO, an insightful and intelligent voice in the pre-dawn twilight that to my ear always stood out above the others. Dee, and for that matter, everyone in her family, was a public radio loyalist in so many ways. But more importantly, Dee had the spirit, good will and pure heartedness that characterized so many of the women of her generation who I met when I came to Alaska. I’ll miss that.

— Bill Legere

I met Dee the first time I went to Juneau, in 2015. I was wandering along Franklin Street when I came upon the Observatory. As a fan of both maps and small independent bookstores, of course I had to stop in. I ended up spending the next few hours inside, browsing through Dee’s collections and talking to her about everything from religion to cartography. My soul recognized her immediately as a kindred spirit and I hoped someday I would end up like her: wise, surrounded by old books in a simple little shop, and full of easy grace. I went back later that week and spent another rainy afternoon with her. I ended up buying two old maps and a couple of books, including a new edition of “The Tlingit Indians,” written by Aurel Krause in the late 19th century. I remember her telling me what a fascinating book it was, and that she was certain I’d enjoy it. When I mentioned that I write poetry in my spare time, she took a few dollars off my purchase as a “poet’s discount,” saying it was her little way of being a patron of the arts. I still have the handwritten receipt. When I got back to Anchorage and started reading “The Tlingit Indians,” Dee’s enthusiastic recommendation of the book made even more sense: she had written the foreword herself.

— Egan Millard

I used to go in and she would pull me out a pair of white gloves. We would try to find her oldest maps and she would read them to me … in Latin. It was beautiful. Ill miss her … and our Latin map times…

— Jay Johnston

I remember when Dee had The Observatory in Sitka, too… long before she moved to Juneau. Great lady and great bookstore.

— Glenn Miller

I always loved visiting Dee at The Observatory. She had so many stories and a lot of answers. I also appreciated her kindness when she would send me corrections!

— Melissa Griffiths

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