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Family, Friends Remember Victoria Reid

Reid, 58, was co-owner of the Reston Used Bookshop.

While growing up in England, Victoria Reid often pretended to be a bookseller, pulling her wagon around town, filled with stacks of children's books.

"Some kids played tea party, she played bookstore," said Bud Burwell, co-owner of the Reston Used Bookshop at Lake Anne Village Center.

Reid, 58, died of cancer Thursday morning, though not before realizing her life-long dream of running a bookshop. She co-owned the Lake Anne store with Burwell and his wife, Sue, since 1999.

As co-owner of the Lake Anne used bookstore, Reid was a loved and respected by her fellow small business owners and by the community members who frequented her store.

"She was the most remarkable colleague to have on the plaza," said Susann Gerstein, owner of Small Change, a children's clothing store also located at the village center. "She really had a passion for Lake Anne."

Like the other shops and restaurants at Lake Anne, the bookstore has become an integral part of the community, with Reid knowing most of her customers and vice versa.

"Everyone knew her because of her wit and her charm," Gerstein said.

A resident of Lake Anne's Heron House, Reid was known around the plaza for her flamboyant style and artistic sensibility, which was frequently reflected in the colorful scarves and hats she wore and in the decor of the store.

"This store's really been Victoria's vision," Burwell said.

Reid's mark will be left on the bookstore and on the Lake Anne community as a whole because of the children's book wing of the store. She had always wanted to include a place where she could read books to children, and several years ago the bookstore expanded to include a reading area among the stacks of children's literature.

Once a week, pre-school students from the day-care school at Lake Anne who fill the children's section and surround "Miss Victoria" while she read them stories.

"She loved reading stories to kids," Burwell said. "She loved turning them on to reading and literature."

REID'S LOVE of literature was evident throughout her life. She collected thousands of children's books, she wrote an unpublished book documenting her family's history and she named a group of her closest friends "The Ya-Ya's," after reading the 1999 novel, "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood."

"She stretched people," said Mary Ellen Peterson, a member of the Ya-Ya's who lives in Norfolk. "If you were thinking about something, she'd make you think about it a little more and if you were thinking about nothing, she'd make you think of something."

With the Ya-Ya's, Reid traveled to Mexico, London, New York City, New Brunswick, Canada and elsewhere. Every Christmas, they would meet at the Virginia Museum in Richmond to share stories and exchange gifts. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Reid shared the news with her friends and told them she would refuse to let it dissuade her from living.

"Even when she was so ill, she was still so enthusiastic about life," said Nancy Miller, also a member of the Ya-Ya's from Norfolk.

Reid was also known as an enthusiastic supporter of the annual Reston Relay for Life fundraiser. Her tie-dyed team, which is co-sponsored by St. Anne's Episcopal Church and the Reston Used Bookshop, has raised more than $40,000 since the team was founded four years ago.

IN ADDITION to owning a bookstore, Reid's other longtime hope was to attend the marriage of her son, William Ober, 31. Last fall, she got her wish and danced with him at his wedding, both of them knowing she had little time left.

"Having her dance with me at my wedding was really incredible," Ober said. "I'm glad she was able to do that."

By the end, Burwell said, Reid was in such pain that it was almost a blessing she passed away when she did.

"It had gotten so hard for her, I'm grateful that she's relieved. That's about all I can say about that," he said.