John W. Borek, former co-owner of the Village Green Bookstore, Rochester, N.Y., died on April 3. He was 71 and had been ill with leukemia.
Borek was a co-founder of Village Green in 1972, starting in a 600 square foot space. As recalled by the Democrat and Chronicle, the store expanded quickly, adding magazines and newspapers, a coffee bar, and a range of sidelines. In an unusual move for an indie bookstore, it went public in 1986 and expanded to other locations in upstate New York as well as Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But financial problems involving a major investor and the arrival of Borders and Barnes & Noble in the area led to a Chapter 11 filling in 1998 and the closing of its last store the following year.
WXXI noted that the Rochester City Council proclaimed February 16 as "John W. Borek Day," celebrating "a life story greater than the sum of all its chapters."
Those other chapters included being a legislative aide to a City Councilman for 15 years, president of the 19th Ward Community Association, recording rap albums, writing plays and performing in them as artistic director at Multi-use Community Cultural Center. And last year, he published The Club Van Cortlandt (New Shelves Books), about his freshman year at Columbia University. (For more about the book and Borek's "page-turner of a life," see this story in the Rochester City Newspaper.)