In Memoriam

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Gail Kay Jacobson MAT ’68

Gail Kay Jacobson MAT ’68, June 21, 2011, in Portland, from cancer. A Portland resident and a graduate in history from Mills College, Gail taught history at Jefferson High School in Portland. After earning her master’s degree from Reed, disenchanted with life and politics in the U.S., she hitchhiked through Europe en route to Greece. She found a cottage in Melina on the Aegean Sea, with two acres of land cultivated in olive trees and managed by sheep herding, and settled into a life “much more realistic than any other lifestyle would be.” Gail led charter tours through the Greek islands and the Aegean aboard a 38-foot sailboat, Diogenis. Her primary occupation. however, was studying and collecting textiles. She used the rich cultural background of the pieces she found to inspire her own creations in crochet, stitching, and weaving. “The search for textiles is only the tip of a collector’s iceberg; one gathers at least as many wonderful, generous people in the process,” she said. During visits with her parents in Portland, she operated a shop in downtown Portland, where she sold Greek and Turkish goods and taught tapestry crochet classes. Sales from her shop benefited those in her village and helped sustain her life in Greece. She also gave presentations and loaned pieces from her growing collection of textiles for exhibitions in the Pacific Northwest. Gail and her husband, Peter Stephan, founded a grassroots ecology group, Aquapeace, in 1985. Eight years later, Gail returned permanently to the U.S. to support her mother, whose health had failed. Gail bequeathed her Turkish rug collection to Reed in part to establish the Flying Carpet Fund, providing financial aid for students from low- and lower- middle-income working-class families.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2011

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