The Columns

Betty Munger, Longtime Bookstore Manager at W&L, Dies at 91

— by on March 28th, 2008

Elizabeth Evans “Betty” Munger, the manager of Washington and Lee University’s bookstore from 1967 to 1983, died at Foxdale Village Retirement Community, State College, Pa., on March 26. She was 91.

Munger was born in 1916 in Braintree, Mass. A member of the second graduating class of Bennington College, in 1937, she held a pre-med degree. She and her husband, Dr. Robert S. Munger ’35, moved to Lexington in 1941. An active member of the community, she founded the local chapter of the League of Women Voters and served as head of the Botetourt-Rockbridge Library System.

Munger became the manager of the W&L bookstore in 1967, when it was housed in the former Co-op (now Holekamp Hall). She belonged to the Virginia College Stores Association, the American Bookseller Association and the National Association of College Stores, and served those organizations in various capacities, including as president of the Virginia group.

Munger contributed a chapter, “Trade Books on Campus,” to a 1980 book, “Manual of Book Selling.” She also won a prize from the National Association of College Stores for her promotional ideas: A bookmark bearing a quote, “When I get a little money, I buy books. And if any is left, I buy food and clothes”; and a popular shopping bag that customers called a “bookpoke.” On that occasion, University President Robert E. R. Huntley ’50, ’57L, told the association that “Betty combines talent as an efficient manager with a large measure of knowledge and excitement about literature, which has caused our bookstore to be one of the most stimulating places on campus.” In 1973, Munger won the Ring-tum Phi Award from the student newspaper for her contributions to W&L.

In 1951, the Mungers bought a large plot of land they dubbed Boxerwood and built a home there. Dr. Munger undertook extensive landscaping; after his death in 1988, Betty Munger continued the work. In 1997, under new owners, Boxerwood Nature Center & Woodland Garden opened to the public.

Betty Munger is survived by three children: Dr. Robert S. Munger III and his wife, Jill Nooney; Christopher E. Munger and his companion, Pat West; and Sally Munger Mann (former University photographer) and her husband, Larry Mann ’70; and four grandchildren, Robert S. Munger IV, Emmett Mann, Jessie Mann ’04 and Virginia Mann.

Betty Munger will be remembered at a “walkabout” at Boxerwood on Sunday, April 6, from 2:00–5:30 p.m. Contributions in her memory may be made to the Betty Munger Garden Fund, Foxdale Village, 500 E. Marylyn Ave., State College, PA 16801, or to the Boxerwood Education Association, 963 Ross Road, Lexington, VA 24450.