Remembering Macy Janney

We were so very sorry to learn of the death of Macy Janney on Sunday, October 18th. Her list of life accomplishments is so long that the Dayton Book Fair didn’t wasn’t mentioned, but without Macy there would have been no Friends organization formed in 1969 to help support Planned Parenthood and there would have been no Book Fair. She served as President of the Friends group for several years and served on the board and eventually as president of the Miami Valley chapter.

Even after our separation from Planned Parenthood in 2014, Macy and Jervis Janney have continued to support us as regular and generous donor. It was always such a pleasure to see their name come up on “caller i.d.” and know that the witty and delightful Macy would be on the other end.

Macy Janney continues to serve as a lasting testament to how much we can shape our communities and how much can be accomplished through the dedication and efforts of volunteers. We are, and always will be immensely grateful to her.

(Her obituary from the Dayton Daily News is below.)

JANNEY (Putnam), Macy

Heaven has gained a new hostess.

On October 18, 2020, Macy Putnam Janney peacefully crossed the bridge to new horizons, leaving behind the beloved family she built, and a community forever enriched by the lifetime she spent in its service.

Macy was born in Bronxville, New York, on December 15, 1934, to Henry Wilson Putnam and Elizabeth Ackermann Putnam of Hewlett, Long Island. After graduating from Garrison Forest School in Baltimore, she majored in Dance and Drama at Bennett Junior College, where she served as senior class president.

During her time in New York City attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she met Jervis Spencer Janney, Jr., whom she married on May 2, 1957. Inspired through her work in summer stock theater with the likes of Rue McClanahan, Gypsy Rose Lee and Eileen Brennan, Macy set her destiny: She would spend her life as a champion of the arts.

After settling with her husband and three small children in Dayton, Ohio, in 1964, Macy devoted herself to filling the void she saw in arts education for young people. Her work at the Junior League in her newly adopted hometown quickly became the launchpad for decades of dedicated activism alongside the accomplished friends she met there.

A testament to her tireless spirit, Macy was a board member of the Victory Theater Assn., Arts Dayton, The Bach Society, the Human Race Theater Co., and the Miami Valley Hospital Health Foundation, as well as an advisory member of the India Foundation, WDPR Public Radio, and the Allegro Fund of the Dayton Foundation. She was President of the Board of the Dayton Ballet Company as well as its general Manager for several years.

Following in the footsteps of her grandmother, who worked alongside of Margaret Sanger, Macy spent many years advocating and fundraising for family planning education as a board member of Planned Parenthood of Miami Valley and eventually as its President.

A professional volunteer, Macy helped build the Muse Machine from a dream in the basement of friend and founder Suzy Bassani into a powerhouse of arts education for the more than 75000 children now taught by the organization annually. After serving as the Muse Machine’s third Board President, Macy remained highly active in the organization, never missing a chance to elevate the arts as essential learning for all humankind.

Always eager to learn, she opened her home to visiting artists, musicians and choreographers, applying the same practiced dedication to caring for others to those lucky enough to know her personally. Even in the midst of a pandemic and a battle with cancer, Macy’s memory for the most intricate personal details could make the newest acquaintance feel at home with an old friend.

Macy is preceded by her son, Hal Janney, and survived by her husband, Jervis Jr.; her son, Jervis lll, her brother, Michael and his wife, Melody Lawrence, of New York City, her daughter, Allison Janney, of Los Angeles; her grandchildren, Niall and Petra, of Los Angeles; and the thousands more whose lives she uplifted with her mission to amplify arts experience and education.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donation may be made to the Miami Valley School, The Muse Machine or the Arts Alliance, all of Dayton. A memorial Service will be announced at a later date.

Ted Campbell

I’ll never forget the first time I met Ted Campbell, years ago. He had arrived in his little black pick-up truck to bring us a donation of books. Unlike any other donation before or since, they were meticulously boxed by author and the titles further arranged in alphabetical order.  It did not surprise us to read in his obituary that he’d kept a ledger of all the books he’d read since age 12: 3,659. More than a million pages.  (I think there might have been a few extra pages in there as while pricing paperback books for us, he would sometimes dip in to read a page or two or ten.) 

As a volunteer, Ted was all those things that his beautifully organized donation would suggest: caring, meticulous, orderly. What we would grow to learn and love about him was his wicked wit and rollicking sense of humor. Ever the raconteur, Ted had many fascinating stories to tell, and his eyes would twinkle when he’d pause to underscore a certain point. 

Ted, 89 then, was at the fairgrounds nearly every day to help with the endless tasks of the annual Dayton Book Fair, where this photo was taken last November. Late this winter he came to tell me that he was going to take a little time off while his wife Becky was recovering from surgery, but he promised me that he’d be back in the spring. Then the pandemic came. 

Ted shared a birthday with another volunteer and we used to jokingly refer to them as “the twins”— even though their birthdays are fifty years apart. Ted often caught a ride in from Yellow Springs with his “twin”, and it is fitting that it was she who let us know the very sad news that Ted slipped away from us last Tuesday morning, August 25th, peacefully, at home with his family.  

His obituary, (linked here ) outlines Ted’s many achievements in life and his devotion to his community in Yellow Springs. We will all very much miss seeing him arrive on Thursday mornings, decked out in his U.S.S. Spinax cap, ready to price and sort half a dozen cartons of books. There will be other people to price those books, but there will never be another character like Ted Campbell. We were privileged to know him. 

 -Larkin Vonalt

2020 Book Fair is Canceled.

Dear Friends,

After much contemplation and discussion, the Book Fair Foundation, Inc. has opted to cancel our Book Fair for November 2020. This is, indeed the lost year and the first year in 50 that there will not be an enormous Book Fair in Ohio the second weekend in November. 

Please do not be too hard on us, we are heartbroken. 

Donations are down due to the pandemic, and our volunteer ranks have been decimated by the loss of a great many  helpful people who are simply too high-risk to come out. We could not figure out how to even manage social distancing, upholding mask protocols and whatever other mandates the state may have bestowed by then. In addition, it is hard to know what the country is going to look like the week after the election.

The beneficiaries we chose for 2020— Community Voices at WYSO, the Dayton International Peace Museum and X/ACT (Xenia Area Community Theatre) will be our beneficiaries for 2021. 

We will still celebrate our 50th anniversary next  year, featuring Harriet Beecher Stowe. Mark your calendars now for Friday, November 12, 2021 through Monday November 15, 2021. 

Donations are still being accepted at our 2181 Embury Park Road facility and at barrel and drop off points around the community.  We are ever more in need of volunteers to process and price books; if you love books and have some spare time, please come see us. Our offices remain open on Embury Park: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Wednesday 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. 

If you have questions or concerns please feel free to contact us.

We are so very sorry, and wish with all our hearts that we could have arrived at a happier decision. 

Kindest regards, 

Larkin Vonalt

Executive Director, Dayton Book Fair

Closed Again, July 6 – 13th

The Foundation’s “Book Loft” will again be closed; this time through Monday, July 13 for two reasons.

The first is that one of the compressors for the air-conditioning has failed, so half of the building is without AC. The building owner will be replacing both compressors (since they’re both 28 years old) sometime during the week— and it takes a crane to do so because they are installed on the roof. The thing is that we don’t know the actual day next week— it’s forecast to be in the 90s all week and it puts a great deal of stress on the remaining working system to have it running with the other off. So it’s hot here.

The other is that Montgomery County is one of seven hot spots for extreme risk for the Coronavirus infection. Two of the others are Butler and Hamilton counties, so that makes a whole lot of free-floating infectors in our area. With the mask ordinance in Dayton, I hope that we will begin to see a reduction in those numbers.

The board will revisit this situation next weekend and decide where to go from there. I surely do hope that we will be able to decide to once again open our doors.

Scheduled to “Re-Open” Tuesday June 2

The Book Fair Foundation will be returning to their offices at 2181 Embury Park Road on Tuesday, June 2. But these are strange times, and the “re-opening” will be limited while we gauge the impact reduced restrictions are having on the spread of the coronavirus.

We will be able to accept donations through contact-less drop off points, both at our front entrance and at the loading dock. Signed receipts will be available at the front entrance. If you need assistance unloading your vehicle, you must call in advance to make sure that there will be someone here who can help with that. The office number is (937) 999-4491.

We will be here our regular hours: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 10 to 3 and Wednesdays, 1 to 7.

We are sad to say that we are not able to offer in-home or in-business pick-ups at this time, but will reevaluate that situation on June 30.

We much appreciate your patience and very much hope that you and yours have stayed well during these challenging times.

We are closed through May 29th

Dear Friends of the Dayton Book Fair,
It has been a difficult week for difficult decisions. Out of an abundance of caution and because a significant percentage of our volunteer staff are in the at-risk-for-death age rage for Covid19, we are closing the doors of the book loft effective immediately through Friday, May 29, when we will re-evaluate. During this time, we will also be suspending pickups from people’s homes and businesses. We understand that some people are of the opinion that the measures being taken at this time are a massive overreaction, I hope they’re right. But it is simply not worth the risk to endanger anyone’s health over second-hand books.

In the meantime, you have all those books you’ve been wanting to read, right?

Take care, stay home, stay well and keep washing your hands. We’ll keep you posted.
Kind regards,

Larkin Vonalt

Executive Director, Dayton Book Fair 

Dayton Book Fair Chooses New Beneficiaries

The Dayton Book Fair announced on Wednesday that they have chosen this year’s three beneficiaries to receive proceeds from their 50th anniversary Book Sale in November 2020. Each beneficiary will receive a grant of around ten thousand dollars.

This year the three beneficiaries are the Dayton International Peace Museum, the Xenia Area Community Theater and WYSO’s Center for Community Voices project.

The Dayton International Peace Museum is the only brick and mortar Peace Museum in North or South America and the houses the only interactive exhibit on the Dayton Peace Accords in the world. They are the official repository for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and run a very successful Peace Camp for children ages 5-12. They maintain changing exhibits on the many challenges to peace and peacemaking including the effects of violence and war, gun culture, poverty, bullying, the environment, and international cooperation.

The Xenia Area Community Theater is an all-volunteer theater and gallery space established in 2005 to serve area interests in performing and fine arts and stimulate community involvement in those areas. They produce eight fully staged plays during their regular season (to date more than 100 productions) along with several summer shows and youth camps. Their plans for the grant from the Book Fair Foundation include a week-long Special Needs Children’s Initiative workshop and performance for children on the Autism Spectrum, and to improve theatre accessibility to a variety of groups whose ability to attend live theater is hampered by ticket cost.

WYSO, the public radio station long-associated with Antioch College has recently separated their university relationship to become an independent entity. While much of their budget pays for nationally syndicated public radio programming, the grant from the Dayton Book Fair will enable them to fund grassroots programming in the Center for Community Voices, for the documentary and story-telling segments produced by Dayton Youth Radio, Women’s Voices (produced by female inmates at a Dayton correctional facility) and County Lines, focusing on the rural populations in our community.

“It is challenging to choose just three,” said Dayton Book Fair Executive Director Larkin Vonalt. “It is a multi-day project for the Foundation’s board to winnow down from dozens of excellent organizations all doing important work to just three.”

Asked about criteria that the board might consider in choosing the finalists, Ms. Vonalt noted that they examine the size of the organization, the need for funding, and how the board feels that the year-long partnership will work.

“There are so many intangibles,” she added, “and at the very end when we’ve narrowed it to just a few, it often comes down to what kind of fit it will be for all of us.”

The Dayton Book Fair board handles grant-making a little differently than other foundations, requiring a year-long informal partnership with the beneficiaries. Organizations chosen are asked to promote the sale through a variety of means, they are encouraged to hold a book drive and required to volunteer at least 40 hours over the year.

Since 2015 the Foundation has made grants to 16 different organizations in the Dayton Community, giving away more than $130,000 over the last five years. The Dayton
Book Fair is Ohio’s largest used book sale and each year rehomes about 40 tons of books, records, puzzles, and games.

“While the grant-making is an essential part of our existence, and we are delighted to be able to support so many exceptional Dayton-area non-profits, we have discovered that we have another remarkably important mission in providing a meaningful and purposeful venue where people can donate their beloved books,” Ms. Vonalt commented, noting that they collect books all year round at their office at 2181 Embury Park Rd as well as offering a free pick up service for those who need it and collaborating twice a year with all the Dayton area Grismer Tire Stores for book “round-ups” the last week of May and August.

Those donated books are then sorted, priced and packed for the sale held each year the second weekend in November at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, and the proceeds from that sale used in making grants to community non-profit organizations working in the areas of arts, education, social welfare, literacy and community development.

New Deadline for Beneficiary Applications

The holidays are busy for everyone, and for the members of the Foundation Board this year that means that we are having to extend the deadline for applications for the 2020 Beneficiaries of the 50th Dayton Book Fair.

We will still announce the beneficiaries on Sunday, February 2nd.

If you are interested in being a beneficiary of the Dayton Book Fair in 2020, please note that the application deadline has been changed ! It must be received by close of business (3 pm) on 21 January 2020 or postmarked 15 January 2020.  You can find information and a link to the application packet here.

Saturday September 14! Go Forth and Eat Barbeque!

Come enjoy some delicious barbeque and support your favorite Book Fair at the same time. This Saturday, September 14, at Beavercreek and Centerville OH locations of City Barbeque, if you show this barcode (on your phone is fine too) or even just tell them that you are there to support Dayton Book Fair, we will get 25% of the proceeds! A huge thanks to City Barbeque for providing such a generous fundraising opportunity for local non-profits. #daytonbookfair#citybarbeque Please share!

Print this out, stop by the office to pick up a card, or simply tell the great folks there that you want to support Dayton Book Fair! It’s all good!

One Great Volunteer

No matter how much you love doing something, sometimes it is time for a change. And so it is that our intrepid Operations Manager, Brian Davies, has resigned from the Book Fair Foundation to pursue other volunteer opportunities. He’s looking for something where the benefit of his help is more immediately apparent, and whichever organization he chooses will be so very lucky to have him. We will miss his wit and compassion and dedication— no one worked longer hours or more days. It sure won’t be the same to not see his (mostly) smiling face at the Book Loft or his gold Caddy in its usual spot in the parking lot. We wish him the very best and can never adequately thank him for all the years he’s dedicated to the Dayton Book Fair.