In Memoriam

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Carolyn Stuart Russell MAT ’66

A picture of Carolyn Stuart Russell

Carolyn Stuart Russell MAT ’66, December 16, 2011, in her home by Horseshoe Lake, Washington, from lung cancer. Carolyn left college to help support her young family while her husband finished his law degree, and later completed undergraduate work at Portland State University and earned a master’s degree in art education at Reed. She treasured classes with Lloyd Reynolds [English & art 1929–69], her thesis adviser, who was a wellspring of encouragement. Carolyn taught elementary through junior college students in Washington and Oregon for most of her career. She helped found the Deer Park Art Commission near her Washington home and was occasionally the subject of news articles showcasing her teaching innovations, her art, and her mentoring of special-needs children and senior adults. Carolyn produced artistic creations in many media. Her favorite medium was clay, some of which she dug and processed herself. “Being a potter, and sharing her joy and discoveries about pottery production with other potters, was a seminal part of her self-expression,” wrote daughter Kitty Russell ’69, who provided the details for this memorial. After her retirement from full-time teaching, Carolyn discovered a philosophy of applied artistic form in the writings of R. Buckminster Fuller. When a fire destroyed her gallery and log home, situated by Horseshoe Lake, she let the home site and her mind settle for a few years before she rolled up her sleeves, engaged friends and family, and with them built a dome overlooking the lake. It remains a light-embracing home and art gallery. What Carolyn did exceptionally well, Kitty says, was to act as a lightning rod for the creativity of others. She loved to host guests for outdoor meals and afternoon swims at her lakeside home. Afterwards, she would set all attendees to creating something: baking cookies, building clay pots, cracking glass for window designs, sewing a stained-glass-design tablecloth, or planting new flowers in her tiered rock gardens. “She lived and encouraged the chi spirit that was her thesis topic, finding no barriers for her artist’s mind.” In a second career, Carolyn served as a substitute teacher in local public schools and an adjunct instructor for home school groups until she was 79. She is remembered for her challenging lesson plans and recruitment of working artists to teach special topics in unique and remarkable ways. Her mantra, says Kitty, was always “learn by doing . . . and you can do it!” Her will leaves a bequest to Reed College with fond regards for her time as a student there. Survivors include her daughters, Kitty, Christy, and Connie; 9 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and her sister, Mary Stuart Steinle MALS ’71. Carolyn’s ashes reside in an urn she crafted herself, featuring bas-relief carvings of a potter, a kick wheel, and clay vessels.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2012

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