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Archive for Sunday, January 6, 2002

Owner of ‘curious goods’ shop dies at 53

January 6, 2002

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When a Christmas Eve fire destroyed The Chapman in 1990, Clyde Chapman, owner of the used and curious goods shop, still showed up at a friend's house for an annual Christmas Eve gathering.

"He said, 'My store just burned down,'" said friend Phil Riehle. "He could handle any kind of adversity with aplomb."

Chapman opened a new and bigger shop at 731 N.H. with the help of funds raised by friends. The burned-out store was at 819 Vt.

His own home had burned a few years before, Riehle said.

"Some people would fall apart, but he was never like that," Riehle said. "He always tackled his problems and dealt with them."

It was with that same tenacious spirit that Chapman confronted brain cancer. Despite his illness, friends say, Chapman was still talking a month ago about reopening his store, which has been closed since he became ill last winter.

But Saturday morning, Chapman lost his battle with cancer. He was 53.

Chapman had an eye for the unusual.

One peek through his storefront window reveals a smorgasbord of eccentric used goods: glass swans, a basket of colorful matchbooks, a stack of clarinets.

"I think Clyde had an eye for different kinds of things that most antique dealers didn't really have," said Lawrence resident Pat Kehde, who frequented The Chapman. "I think that's one of the things that set his shop apart."

Chapman had been a collector all his life. If customers thought his store looked like the refuge of a pack rat, they "should see his house," Riehle said.

Chapman also was known for striking bargains with customers who fell in love with items in his store but didn't have enough money to pay the marked price.

"His general generosity of spirit is what attracted so many folks to him," said friend Don Jochems. "He's just a magnificent person, a truly unique individual. If there were lots more people like that, the world would be a much better place."

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