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Author and community advocate Joan Drury will be missed

Joan Drury enjoys a treat at her beloved bookstore. Photo courtesy of Drury Lane Books
Joan Drury enjoys a treat at her beloved bookstore. Photo courtesy of Drury Lane Books

Joan Drury, award-winning author, patron of the arts, and friend to many on the North Shore, passed away Nov. 9 at North Shore Health in Grand Marais. She leaves behind an amazing legacy.

Her obituary can be found in the obituary section of the WTIP website. And it will come as no surprise to her friends that Joan herself wrote the obituary, with final touches made by her daughter, Kelly Kager.

Joan lived a life of advocacy for fellow authors, including her role as the publisher and chief editor of Spinsters Ink for eight years. During her tenure, the company published about 40 books, including 26 award-winning works.  

From the metro area to the North Shore, Joan helped writers and eventually co-created Norcroft: A Writing Retreat for Women at her Lutsen home. Her daughter, Kelly, said she had a “small library” of the many books that were written in part at Norcroft workshops by attendees.

Joan was also an avid writer and she authored six books, earning numerous awards. Her Tyler Jones mystery trilogy, with its feminist lesbian writer protagonist, was set on the rugged North Shore.

Joan loved theater and she was delighted that her son, Kevin, took to the stage in many Grand Marais Playhouse productions. She was also involved in the Grand Marais Shakespeare Theater and Black Iris production, which produced The Vagina Monologues, not once, but twice. Friends who had never thought of acting took part, thanks to Joan’s encouragement.

The list of contributions made by Joan to the community is long, from donations to the school and library for books and programming or for the purchase of hurdles for the track team to a major affordable housing project in Lutsen. 

One of her greatest legacies is the small building at the end of Wisconsin Street, at the edge of the Lake Superior shoreline, Drury Lane Books. The little bookstore is a favorite spot for book lovers of all ages.

According to the bookstore’s Facebook page, it was Joan's wish and the wish of her children that Drury Lane Books stay open.  Although saddened by the loss of the store’s founder, bookstore staff say they will continue to run her bookstore and offer the space and curation of books that Joan founded in 2002.

WTIP's Rhonda Silence talks with Gwen Danfelt, the manager of Drury Lane Books, about Joan’s legacy and the future of the bookstore.