At TBF 2018, Beth gave us buttons with Stephanie’s smiling face. I keep my button on my bulletin board, at my eyeline, and I feel Stephanie and her wild and wonderful light with me. I felt her at TBF this past year too, saw her in the faces of the folks who came to the festival. Stephanie lives on in her kids, the thousands she touched and inspired over the years at TBF and at the library. She lives on in her wonderful friends who keep on keeping on with their beautiful work in the libraries and class rooms, and in Fred, who was so gracious and brave this past year at the festival, showing up with his golden light to keep Stephanie’s spirit with us. I miss her so much, but if I surrender to my memories of her, I hear her laughter. Those crazy gifts she used to pick out for us—each one was so thoughtful, and a bit of a gag. This past year, Stephanie was gone for two months by the time I opened up my gift bag. Beth said one of the last things Stephanie had done was to be sure she’d gotten all of us gifts. She knew I love dogs and got me a mug that said: DOG HAIR: NOT JUST AN ACCESSORY, BUT ALSO A CONDIMENT. Stephanie, I love you.
TBF is the best teen fest in the world (and I've been to the other ones, all wonderful too but...). Stephanie was a world class leader, friend, cheerleader. Even though I knew she was stressed, she always seemed to find time to make sure everyone knew they were valued and appreciated. It's a great loss to be sure, but the festival is bigger than her now and will live on in her spirit. Here's to a brighter future after the darkness passes.
As an author who was always delighted to be invited to Rochester for the Teen Book Festival, I was in awe of what Stephanie managed to accomplish with the TBF—not just that she assembled such an amazing team that could put on such a huge event year after year, but also that she made it also so personal for everyone involved. I know her legacy lives on in all the kids who experienced TBF over the years, and found that that event changed their lives in both subtle and immense.