Dick Weatherford 1939-2020

Dick Weatherford

Dick Weatherford 1939-2020

Alibris Co-founder

Alibris was sad to learn of the passing of our beloved co-founder, Richard “Dick” Weatherford. Dick founded the company in 1998 along with Martin Manley. Though he left the company more than a decade ago, his spirit and influence on Alibris continue today. Below are thoughts from many current and former Alibris employees who knew and worked with him over the years. We send our deepest condolences to his family and wish them peace.

Dick’s family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Dick’s name to the First Lutheran Church of Port Orchard.

If you knew Dick, we invite you to leave any comments or memories you may have of him in the discussion area below.

My partnership with Richard Weatherford was one of the highlights of my life.  Dick and I got to know each other during a two-week trip across the United States when we visited dozens of prominent booksellers in late 1997. We would describe our vision of an e-commerce website for used, rare, and out-of-print books. Some sellers loved it, some hated it, but almost all were interested and all respected Dick enormously.  When we got to Portland, we of course met with Michael Powell. While visiting Powell’s, somebody paged Dick on the store’s intercom. Immediately three or four booksellers came to the front of the store because they heard Dick’s name. They were shopping for underpriced books for their own stores but were eager to speak with Dick, who was one of the best known booksellers in the Northwest.

– Marty Manley, Alibris Co-founder and CEO 1998-2006

I did not know Dick Weatherford personally but I’m honored to celebrate the life of a wonderful person and truly gentle human being who, from all that I understand, spread cheer and great motivation by his mere presence in the company. The legacy of warmth and kindness that he created in Alibris is something we proudly take forward. May your soul rest in peace, Dick. You will always be remembered.

– Anindo Dey, Alibris CEO

Dick was a wonderful human being. He was extraordinarily knowledgeable, but humble. He had a deep and abiding passion for literature, books, booksellers, collectors, libraries and readers, and didn’t hesitate to share and educate the rest of us in his world. Dick built bridges between people who had decades of experience in the trade, and us young punks who came into his world with all kinds of good and bad ideas. He introduced us to each other, brokered relationships, and helped calm things down when passions ran too high. Dick would seldom get frustrated, but when he did it was usually because people weren’t listening to each other. The world is a lesser place in his absence.

– Brian Elliott, Alibris CEO 2007-2012

I feel like Dick and I shared a special bond. I was the 10th employee hired at Alibris and with Dick, I built out the bookseller network. One of my fondest memories was of an early trip up to WA State where I stayed at Dick’s house. Dick’s wife Harriet was an amazing homemaker and when I entered the kitchen she had just baked fresh bread. The smell was hypnotic. There was fresh, homemade jam as well probably from fruit somewhere on their one-acre plot of land on the water in Southworth. Dick and I worked closely together as we built out the seller network, gaining trust from booksellers sharing the opportunities that were forthcoming online. We were the “weather men”, the evil empire and saviors at the same time. We traveled to the U.K. together dining with the former head of MI6 who also happened to be a well-respected collector. We had quite a ride, Dick and I, and I will always be grateful for his friendship.

– Wendy Winter

Dick was a tremendous help as we launched Alibris for Libraries back in 1999. We loved it when Dick would attend library trade shows with us because librarians loved his charm, library knowledge, and sincerity. Despite his impressive background, Dick was one of the kindest and humblest people I’ve ever met.

– Shelly Stuard Emerson

Dick’s humor and wit brought a smile to every conversation. As a leader in an industry that was completely transforming very quickly, his foresight and ambition led to the many innovative solutions that Alibris, and the team he started, later produced. When business decisions were based on demand and (over) supply in the world of books, we would not choose the path forward without him onboard. My memories of Dick always include his thoughtful and insightful advice, and the image of his ready laughter and encouragement. It was a blessing and a privilege to know Dick Weatherford.

– Mark Nason

You knew he was one of the all-time greats the first time you met him. It was the 2002 (or thereabouts) and you found yourself in some godforsaken hotel for an Alibris for Libraries trade show, and Dr. Weatherford was lending some gravitas and throwing you a bone by helping you hang out with a bunch of crabby librarians for the (very, very long) weekend, and you really got to watch him work — you saw how bright and funny and charming he was in a crowd, but you also saw how keen and quick and practical and personal he was one-on-one. Librarians dug him. You dug him. You miss him. You want to say again now what you hope you said to him the last time you worked together: thank you, very much.

– William Kane

In the handful of times I interacted with Dick, the thing that struck me most was that he was always smiling, always enthusiastic. He seemed so happy just to be in a place like Alibris where everyone was working toward his goal of bringing booksellers and readers together. He seemed full of joy and awe about it all: the company, the people, and the energy of this new thing called Alibris realizing his dream. I hope he carried that same childlike wonder with him in his later years and through to wherever he is now. His kindness, humility, and love of books infused Alibris and is the thread from which the culture of Alibris is woven and wears to this day. It’s one of the reasons so many of us have continued to work here for so long. We’re all grateful to Dick.

– David Fisher

I was quite sad when I heard about Dick’s passing. He was a great guy. I joined Alibris and met Dick in 2000. He had a very calm demeanor. But he was excited about the prospect of Alibris becoming a source for hard-to-find books and a company that was respected by its customers for its high standards of service and its corporate culture. Dick made me feel special. In turn, I wanted to make him proud. In my two years at Alibris the company became highly respected in the library market. We grew it into a company that librarians were proud to work with. And it remains that way today.

– Steve Sutton

I met Dick Weatherford sometime in the early days of Alibris back when the company was less than 20 employees. I bonded with him instantly, and as he was so unpretentious and charming that was easy to do. We’d talk about the evolution of the book business — he’d spent years as a seller, and I had a background in sales for a publisher. I’d come from a book loving family with a mom who’d been a college English lecturer in Kentucky, and Dick had been an English professor. At any rate, he felt like instant family. So one day I was finishing up lunch in the kitchen and Dick walked in from the meeting room, caught my eye, and gave a bit of an exasperated eye roll, so I asked him what was up. “Oh, these long meetings can be painful.” I said, “Even for the Chairman of the Board? Does it make you wanna sing that Iggy Pop song? Do you know it?” He looked at me curious, but nope. So I sang somewhat muted, “I’m BORED! …… Chairman of the Bored.” Dick let out an uproarious laugh that lit his face up. Such a kind soul and a dear man. May we all live up to his example as a fine human being. Condolences and peace to his family.

– C.T.

I remember the way I felt each time Mr. Weatherford was in the Emeryville office. I felt calmer and at peace whenever he was around. He had that effect on people. He was a very positive, warm, caring and gentle man. The nicest man one can ever meet. I always looked forward to his visits to the office. Rest in Peace.

– A.P.R.

I remember Dick as a soft spoken gentleman. I always liked hearing, “Dick is in the office.” Everyone always seemed excited and honored that he had stopped by.

– T.R.

I met Dick at Alibris back in 2000, at a company party. I was at a crossroads in my life, having come from running a bookstore and being my own boss, to working a 9-5 job, for a private business. I was feeling stressed and beaten and Dick took the time to sit me down and talk to me realistically about what it takes to work online and survive. He told me to settle down, to do the work and to keep my eyes on the prize. Then he invited me to participate in setting up a class for the whole group, to teach them a little about rare, hard to find books. I always respected Dick for because of this, as he seemed to understand where I was coming from. He was awesome and I will miss him.

– Jay Patton

Dick was a one-of-a-kind man, whose immense love of books really stood out. He made me feel at home working at Alibris from day one. I have fond memories and always enjoyed my time working with him those two years I was there.

– Marvin Liao

I am sad to hear of Dick’s passing. I have good memories of working with him because he would always take a moment to share a funny story or a thoughtful reflection about what was happening, either in the world or in the workplace. It was more than just getting caught up with what was going on at the various parts of the Alibris company – it was a real connection that he saw as part of his vision. I appreciated that a great deal. I send my best wishes to his family. He was a bright light in an “understated” way that helped me keep my own spirits up.

– Suzette Lalime Davidson

Dick Weatherford was a wonderful person. I am incredibly sad to hear of his passing and I’d like to express why he was an essential person in my life.

I love books, and that’s what first brought us together. When I worked with Dick at Alibris, he was always there for me when I needed a hand. He was a guide and mentor. Although he helped me to navigate the world of books and the cast of characters that inhabited that world, I grew to appreciate him beyond our professional relationship. I always found his demeanor to be very kind and very calming. He invited me to visit his beautiful home in Washington State many times. Although I never took him up on his kind offer, I loved to watch his face light up as he spoke about the little piece of heaven he’d found on earth…in his home and with his family.

– Chris Elkins