Elizabeth A. Geiser, a former New York publishing executive, leader in publishing education, and mentor to hundreds of publishing professionals, died at her home in Naples, FL, on October 8. Long active in publishing, she served as senior vice president of the book division of the R. R. Bowker Company and then senior vice president/business development in New York for Gale Research Company of Detroit, where she subsequently served as a consultant.
She had a distinguished career in reference publishing, but is best known for her achievements in publishing education. In 1976 she was one of the founders of the University of Denver Publishing Institute, an annual four-week immersion that she directed each summer until her retirement at the end of 2007.
Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster, said: “Elizabeth Geiser embodied the spirit of a great publisher, but instead of promoting the singular works of authors, she was an evangelist and educator for our industry—and in the process, giving several generations the basic knowledge and deep-seated love of publishing that to this day animates publishing houses large and small across the U.S.”
Peter Mayer, president of The Overlook Press and former CEO of Penguin Books, said: “Elizabeth was a great soul and entrepreneur for the education of young people who wanted to become involved in book publishing. She was an inspiration. She also was so good at cajoling and coaxing speakers for the Denver Publishing Institute that several times I flew from London, where I was working at Penguin, just to attend or give a keynote address. Nobody else would have gotten me to fly 6,000 miles in a few days.”
In turn, she lectured internationally on the subject of publishing, and in the early 1990s led educational seminars in Eastern Europe under the sponsorship of the United States Information Agency. In 1988 she was inducted into the Publishing Hall of Fame.
She is a graduate of Hood College, magna cum laude, Class of 1947. She received Hood’s Alumnae Achievement Award in 1972 and served on the college’s Board of Trustees.
She is survived by three nephews and a niece, C. William (Elaine) Barget III, Robert George (Norma) Barget, Debra Adele (Leroy) Snead, and Richard Allen Barget; four great-nephews, and three great- nieces.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. November 30 at Bower Chapel at Moorings Park, Naples, with interment in East Hanover, NJ.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Elizabeth A. Geiser Endowment Fund, Publishing Institute, University of Denver, Sturm Hall, 2000 E. Asbury Ave., Denver, CO 80208.