June 13, 2012 at 2:39 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Sylvia Colon, 49

Sylvia Anita Colon, a longtime Maryland resident and former co-owner of D.C.’s Lammas Women’s Bookstore, which catered to the lesbian community, died June 8 of a heart attack near Solomon’s Island, Md. She was 49.

Rose Miller, a close friend, said Colon, a lesbian, and a business partner, Denise Bump, bought Lammas Women’s Books from a previous owner in 1998. The store, first opened in 1974, became known as an important meeting place and focal point for the D.C. area lesbian community. Lesbian activist Mary Farmer was among the previous owners of the store.

Bump said Colon closed the store in 2001. Miller said Colon determined that the general decline in the bookstore sales and a declining interest in a specialized women’s bookstore made it difficult to stay in business.

Colon was born in Oklahoma and spent her early childhood in Germany, where her father was stationed in the U.S. military.

Colon, who spoke fluent German, lived most of her adult life in Germantown, Md. She received a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland and worked as an electrical engineer for the suburban Maryland based BAE Systems, which specialized in aerospace engineering projects, according to Miller.

Miller said Colon’s ownership of Lammas Books was a sideline to her career as an engineer.

“She was known for her love of bluegrass and country music, Cher, checkered shirts, a high pitched giggle, and incredibly generous spirit,” Miller said.

She was also an avid follower and friend feminist writer and activist Kate Millett, Miller said.

She is survived by her parents, brother-in-law, nephews, niece, “sister-in-spirit,” and many loving friends, Miller said. Miller said plans for a memorial were under discussion.

Donations in Colon’s name can be made to Kate Millett’s Women’s Art Colony and Tree Farm in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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