Woman wills thousands of books to North Portland bookstore

Woman wills thousands of books to North Portland bookstore »Play Video
Here's some of the books donated by Cheryl Linhart.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Cheryl Linhart died of pancreatic cancer last spring, but she wanted to share her passion for books with her community.

As her final wish, thousands of her books that she had collected over a lifetime were donated to a North Portland bookstore.

The 2,000 books are quite a lot for a little bookstore like St. Johns Booksellers. But it means so much to the store's owner, Nena Rawdah, who Linhart trusted to take care of all of those books and share them with the community.

Rawdah is one of those book store owners who does much of the work herself. She knows her books and her customers and has seen plenty of passionate readers, but she's never had thousands of books donated to her little store.

It's a lot to take in and in more than one way. Rawdah remembers Linhart well. She’s been a customer for years.

"She really did love travel books, and she loved biographies, and she kept everything," Rawdah says. "And I said, 'You know, you can always trade in books.' And she said, No, I don't do that.'"

Linhart has given the books to the store in near perfect condition.

"The ones that come in so well loved and cared for, they say something about the person," Rawdah says.

"You were to never bend a page, you weren't to break the spine and you weren't to mark in them," says Anita Tallman who remembers her sister's strict bookkeeping. "They were like a work of art, sacred pieces, her children," she says.

And Linhart's mom cries at the thought her daughter never made it to a place she always read about – Paris.

But Linhart did travel – at least through her books. Paris and London have a special spot in Rawdah's store. So does history and the Northwest.

It's clear Linhart didn't just buy from her community, she also gave back to it even in her death.

"She gave us beautiful books that people will want," says Rawdah.

Linhart also donated her professional clothing to the nonprofit Dress for Success. And any items family and friends don't want will be given away for free.

The books are now for sale, although Rawdah still has about half of the books to go through.