Thursday, June 21, 2012

For Becky

One of my first memories of playing with clay was at a workshop in the basement of the Unitarian Church.  I was very young and my mother was with me. A husband and wife were teaching a lot of folks how to make slab built pots and simple sculptures. I don't remember much about the workshop to be honest.  I remember the finished product, a round blue flower vase with a clay maple leaf on it’s front.  

Becky last summer 
What I do remember, vividly, is how kind and patient the woman instructing me was. That is probably because throughout my life this couple’s kindness became a constant every time our paths crossed. I grew up an only child under the parentage of two artists (well, one former artist turned extreme art enthusiast / HR manager). This combination led to lots of time at local art shows, gallery openings, open houses, and art courses.  There are many faces from those days that became friends and mentors, but the couple I'm speaking of, Claude and Becky Deegan, stand out amongst the rest.

Becky took a pottery class at Parkersburg Community College and as far as I can tell made and sold pottery locally for many years. Becky and Claude would open their home during the holidays and serve hot apple cider and snacks while friends and customers walked about their beautiful home and studio looking at the works they had created. I have been eating off of Becky's pottery all of my life. She made a small baby dish for my parents when I was born. My mother tells me it was simple and the perfect size. She said it was my main bowl at feeding time. Becky's work was wonderfully functional, and when I returned home last summer for a visit I remember eating from her plates made being home feel even more . . . homey. I also learned that Becky was struggling with dementia. My parents and I visited the Deegan's home and studio and had a magnificent day. A friend of the family, and Becky's original ceramics instructor, Henry Aglio, was also there helping Becky continue to create pottery. They were in the middle of a firing. He said that making pots was really good for her, and that, even though some days she couldn't remember him or other things, she seemed to always remember parts of the creative process. It was a brilliant day. I took a lot of pictures of her more recent work. 

The new work Becky was producing last summer. 

Wednesday morning I received an early morning Skype call from my father informing me that Becky had passed away. My thoughts and heart go out to Claude and the rest of the Deegan family, but words offer little in the way of comfort when confronted with loss and sorrow. My childhood, and life, were better for having Becky's smile.


  1. Thank you so very much for the wonderful blog about my talented Aunt Becky. She was an incredible artist and most importantly a wonderful wife, mother and aunt to us all! I was blessed at age 11 to return to Wassenaar, The Netherlands where they were living for Uncle Claude's job, to spend the Summer of 1975. Aunt Becky was using her pottery wheel in our backyard. I can still see it in my mind outside the glass doors of our diningroom. While her cognitive skills were diminishing her passion for her clay remained. Speaking for her nieces and nephews in Southeastern PA - Pottstown, PA where Becky was born and raised we all say Thank you for the kind and well deserving tribute to her. We'll speak of your kind blog at her Service of Remembrance on Sat. June 30th in Belpre.

  2. Thank you for a beautiful tribute. Becky was a beautiful, loving, artistic & funny lady. She was my aunt and we always loved her wit and class. She will be missed immensely by our family and the whole world.

    fran deegan

  3. I had cereal this morning out of a Becky bowl.....she was truly a wonderful person who graced all our lives.

  4. Such a thoughful post. Becky will be missed by all whom were lucky enough to have known her and her beautiful work.