Rose Joseph, 73

Co-founder of Magic Tree Bookstore

Opinion: Obituaries


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Rose Joseph, 73, co-founder of the Magic Tree Bookstore, died on Feb. 11 after a 4-year battle with cancer. Born on Oct. 13, 1943 in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, Canada, she grew up on a farm. As a young adult seeking adventure, she moved to Chicago and found a job with TWA, giving her an opportunity to travel. Soon she met a fellow adventurer, Bertram Joseph, who had recently moved to Chicago from Trinidad and Tobago. After their first child was born, the family traveled throughout Europe for several months in a Volkswagen camper. They returned to Chicago and moved to Oak Park in 1976.

Since its founding on Madison Street in 1984, Magic Tree has become Oak Park's community bookstore and an important resource in the Chicago metropolitan area. After the move to its present location on Oak Park Avenue, the store became well-known for its special events. A highlight was the midnight introduction of each of the Harry Potter books. Oak Park Avenue was closed to traffic for a giant block party that attracted people from around the country. The 2003 party was covered by national media including the New York Times.

Rose brought to the bookstore her love of children, her love of books, and her interest in arts and design. In 2014 the village of Oak Park honored Magic Tree with a proclamation recognizing its hosting of children's authors and illustrators.

"Rose was sunshine and grace personified," said Beth Albrecht, the new owner of Magic Tree Bookstore. "I've never known anyone so endlessly positive and generous. She spent her life creating beauty and good will and things for all the rest of us to enjoy and learn from. She changed my life dramatically for the better, and I will forever be grateful to her."

Rose is survived by her four children and their spouses, Bertram Jr. and Holly, Aaron and Sarah LaVoi, Maya and Al-Fuquan Brooks, and Nathaniel and his partner Anna-Lisa Castle. She was the proud grandmother of Natalia, Vivienne and Ezra Joseph, and Desmond Brooks. Rose's many friends remember her for her kindness and generosity, her winning smile and hearty laugh.

A service of remembrance will be held at Cheney Mansion, 220 N. Euclid, Oak Park, on Friday, Feb. 17 at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Oak Park-River Forest Day Nursery, where Rose served on the board of directors.

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Georgia Braun from Chicago  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 1:03 AM

Warm glow still lives on in me and my now grown up children from the long ago days we worked together. i think we absorbed some of her natural habits.. like always seeing the good in people and following her heart. What a lovely person, artist, parent. A remarkable woman is a blessing to all but a remarkable mom with children carrying on the tradition of kindness makes the world a better place indeed. Thank you, Rose, for all you did while you were here. Love and light to your dear family.

Susan Beyersdorf Beach from Forest Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 7:10 PM

Oh dear Rose. I am so sorry to hear of your passing. Your love of books and the store had an immeasurable impact on so many young readers in the OP area. God speed dear lovely lady. Condolences to your children.

Nancy Fong from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 5:35 PM

Rose was special. I walked in to Magic Tree one day, asking if she would carry my young nephew's book; we talked, and she took four copies. Very appreciative of her giving us the opportunity.

Michelle Jensen  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 4:44 PM

Such a wonderful woman. My condolences to her family.

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