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Lucretia Leonard Romey

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Lucretia Leonard Romey died unexpectedly on December 2, 2012 in Orleans, Massachusetts. She was the wife of William D. Romey, Professor Emeritus at St. Lawrence University and lived in Canton from 1972 to 1994. She was born in Akron, OH and received her elementary and secondary school education at Akron’s Old Trail School from which she received the Lincoln Gries Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001. She graduated from Indiana University with an AB in Fine Arts in 1955.

After leaving Indiana University she began a brilliant career as a painter, watercolorist, quilter, writer, and teacher, winning awards in major national art shows. She traveled widely, always with her sketchbook in hand, moving to England with her Navy husband Bill in 1955 where she had their first daughter Catherine. The Romeys moved to Washington, D.C. and on to Berkeley, CA where Bill earned his Ph.D. in Geology and she had their daughter, Gretchen and son William. In 1962 Bill began teaching Science Education and Geology at Syracuse University, and she did further studies in sculpture there. They were on a research leave in Norway in 1967 and 1968 when they spent summers working in the Lofoten Islands in the Arctic and she learned Norwegian. She was in Boulder Colorado from 1969-1972 while Bill directed the American Geological Institute’s Earth Science Curriculum Project. There she participated in many art shows and began her work as a fabric artist and quilter. Next came a move to Canton, NY, where Bill became chair of the Department of Geology and Geography at St. Lawrence University. She earned honors in many art shows while also helping to co-found and run The Canton Gallery and teaching art. Their stay in Canton included numerous academic trips to Europe, often with groups of students. In Canton she was active in the Unitarian Church.

In 1991-92 she accompanied her husband to Rouen, France for a year while he directed the St. Lawrence University Program Abroad there. She entered international quilt shows, taught quilting (in French), sketched, entertained the French faculty members working for the program, and acted as the resident “mother” for the St. Lawrence students in the group.

Returning to “retirement” in their family home on Cape Cod she began 15 years of accompanying her husband on cruise ships traveling around the world, while he lectured and she sketched, quilted, and taught art classes. In 1992 and again in 2000 she taught art on the University of Pittsburgh’s Semester at Sea Program involving trips around the world and the shores of Europe. These travels included over two dozen expedition cruises to the Antarctic and the High Arctic and up and down the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. In her later years quilting became a dominant activity. The Romeys returned frequently to Canton to visit friends and relatives. In 2004 she led an art field trip in Canton for the NY State Geological Assn.

She submitted her work to various shows around the country. Her watercolors appeared in prestigious group exhibitions of the American Watercolor Society, the Allied Artists of America, and the National Arts Club in New York City. One of her quilted wall hangings won first prize at the American Quilters Society Show in Paducah Kentucky and was purchased for their museum. Her works are in the collections of several major museums and corporations.

She illustrated several books including North to the St. Lawrence (by Marnie Crowell); Adirondack Places and Pleasures; The Inevitable Guest (by Marcia Monbleau); and All in the Same Boat (Marcia Monbleau). Her North Country Sketchbook appeared weekly in the St. Lawrence Plaindealer and the monthly Mill Pond Sketchbook appeared in the Cape Codder.

Her sketches appeared on the covers of county-wide telephone directories for the Northeast Directory Services. She began to make large multiple-panel sketches of Northern New York and Cape Cod town scenes, barns, buildings, animals, college campuses, landscapes, and other subjects. Prints of these soon became very popular, and many of them hang on walls of homes, shops, and other establishments across northern New York and Cape Cod.

She also did many commissioned drawings and portraits over the years, including a large multiple-panel painting given to New York’s Governor Mario Cuomo for the Governor’s Mansion by the St. Lawrence County Democratic Committee and a large mural for the Community Bank Systems of Canton, NY. Her works are in the collections of The National League of Cities (Washington, D.C.), the State University College of NY in Canton, Clarkson University, the Newton Falls Paper Mill, the AKZO Chemical Co., and Liggett-Stashower Advertizing of Cleveland

Lucretia began her work as a teacher on a bait wharf in Ogunquit , Maine under the supervision of the renowned sculptor Robert Laurent. Later, she taught sculpture and painting lessons at the Boulder, Colorado YWCA. Subsequently she supervised student art teachers in the art education program and taught Interterm courses for St. Lawrence University, also teaching art at the North Country Community College in Malone and the SUNY College in Canton. She gave numerous lectures and workshops on quilting, watercolor painting, and sketching in New York, in other parts of the Eastern U.S., Canada, and France. She was an instructor in quilting at Quilting-by-the-Lake in Cazenovia and in quilt workshops at Paul Smith’s College and Russell Sage College. She was a design instructor at the Cod Cod Museum of Fine Arts. In 1992 and again in 2000 she was an instructor in Studio Arts for the University of Pittsburgh’s Semester at Sea program, cruising around the world and the coast of Europe, always with her sketchbook in hand. In the years from 1993 to 2005 she taught workshops on drawing and quilting to passengers aboard M/S Explorer and other ships on expedition cruises ranging from the Arctic to the Antarctic, around the Mediterranean, in Europe, Asia, South America, the Caribbean, and Pacific.

She was a “natural” teacher and loved to have Bill and their children, adult friends, grandchildren, and anyone else’s visiting children in her studio at 14 West Main St. in Canton and later on Cape Cod. She let people loose with swatches of fabric, needles, threads, scissors, colored pencils, watercolors, paint, and sketchbooks, encouraging experimentation with materials and forms. All she touched took with them a sense of what art is all about. She knew how to get people to observe the world around them and to find ways to represent it in words, music, or images.

She also loved to write and left many notes and personal journals for potential biographers. Among her publications were articles in McCalls Quilting; The American Quilter; Les Nouvelles du Patchwork (France); Spindle, Shuttle, and Dyepot; The Indiana University Alumni Magazine; The Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs (presentations on Art and Geology presented at society meetings; and Adirondack Life. Articles about her work appeared in magazines such as Quilt World; The Review; Great American Quilts 1991; Cape Cod Life; and Fiberarts Design Books II and III. A television program on the Folklife Series of WNPE-WNPI (PBS) featured her work.

Lucretia was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma fraternity, receiving an alumnae achievement award from them in 1996. She served for several years as staff illustrator for The Key, the national magazine of this group. She was on the board of the St. Lawrence Chapter for many years. She was a member of the Junior League in Akron, Berkeley, Syracuse and Colorado and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Lucretia was a warm and loving daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother. She loved good food, good wines, good companions, good music and good theater. She liked to entertain in her home, her big studio, her classrooms, and her ship-board staterooms. She loved travel, visiting over 100 different countries over the years. She was a fine skier, hiker, and camper. She especially loved the beach and her house and studio on Cape Cod. She leaves behind her grieving husband of 57 years, daughters Catherine Keener (an actress and model) and Gretchen Romey-Tanzer (a fiber artist and head of the art department at Cape Cod Academy), a son William (Professor of Biology at the Potsdam State University), and seven grandchildren: Alice and John Tanzer, Christina and John Keener, and Will, Max, and Sage Romey. She also leaves her sister Polly Keener, nephew Ted Keener and niece Whitney Keener (all of Akron) as well as Romey nephews, nieces, and cousins. She will be sorely missed by her many relatives, friends, colleagues, students, and Kappas. Unfortunately, her creative spark dimmed in the last three years of her life as her Alzheimer’s Disease progressed, but she still participated in shows of her quilts on Cape Cod clear into 2012, the year of her death. She was up and around and able to vote in the November election and to participate in family events and go to the beach. Up until her very peaceful passing she remained the delightful, gentle person we all loved so much. Her spirit lives on brilliantly in the many beautiful quilts, paintings, sketches, jewelry, sweaters, silver pieces, sculptures, and photos she has left behind. This legacy will always buoy us up.

For online condolences and an expanded version of this obituary please visit www.nickersonfunerals.com.

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