DALLAS –– Eighteen speakers and book club representatives paid tribute on Thursday to Penny Terk, a well-known local book reviewer who was found murdered in her Oak Cliff home June 28.
Terk, 73, was a former schoolteacher who loved literature so much that she wrote a new chapter in her life a few years ago by connecting book clubs and book reviewers in Dallas.
Summertime Showcase, the event at North Park Presbyterian Church at which friends remembered the "high energy" book-lover, was rganized by Terk herself before her tragic death. While participants initially considered canceling the event, they eventually decided the show must go on to honor their dear friend.
Friends say she was the link between artists and business people.
"That's what Penny was. She was a people person and a connector," said a presenter at the Summertime Showcase.
The Summertime Showcase isn't about mourning and looking back, but celebrating what Terk loved, those in attendance expressed.
"We're not going to have a moment of silence up here, because we're talkers," they all laughed.
Nancy Smith, friend and former Dallas Morning News columnist, says Terk was a risk taker who changed thousands of lives through the literature world.
"It's a tremendous celebration of her life," Smith said. "Imagine going out and trying something like this, you don't know if it's going to succeed. Not only did she succeed, she made it happen."
Smith said the day before Terk’s death, she was busy sending out e-mails, guiding parents on what books to be reading to their children. She believed words were power.
As in her favorite quote, shared by Smith:
"‘To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.’ I think that sums up Penny Terk's life. She will never die. She leaves so much behind in all of our hearts."
On June 30, Dallas police announced an arrest in connection with Terk’s death. Gary Anthony Sanders, 40, was charged with burglarizing the book lover’s home. He is said to be a "person of interest" in her homicide.
Terk was found dead in her ransacked Oak Cliff home in the afternoon on June 28 after her daughter became concerned about her welfare.
Detectives said they are continuing to pursue other leads in this investigation.
News 8's Madeline Schmitt contributed to this report