Patricia A. Still, 85, artist, widow of acclaimed painter

August 26, 2005|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Patricia A. Still, an artist and widow of Clyfford E. Still, the internationally acclaimed abstract-expressionist painter, died of undetermined causes Sunday at Carroll Hospital Center. The New Windsor resident was 85.

Born Patricia Alice Garske in Ione, Wash., she was raised in Idaho. She met her husband while attending Washington State University in Pullman, where he was teaching. She later followed him to San Francisco when he was on the faculty of the California School of Fine Arts.

Mr. Still resigned from the school in 1950 and moved to New York City with Miss Garske, who took a job as a Comptometer operator for Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey.

The couple wed in 1957, after Mr. Still's divorce from his first wife, the former Lillian Battan. They moved to New Windsor four years later.

"The city had become noisy and dirty, and they wanted a more quiet place. So they jumped into his Jaguar and drove south, and found Westminster in Carroll County," said a stepdaughter, Sandra L.S. Campbell of Gold Canyon, Ariz.

"They found and bought a 22-acre farm in New Windsor with a barn and outbuildings," she said. "They converted the barn into a studio where he was able to work and focus his creativity."

Mrs. Still, who painted figures and portraits, abandoned her artistic efforts to support her husband.

"She devoted her life to his life, and to his art," said another stepdaughter, Diane S. Knox of Walnut Creek, Calif. "She provided a comfortable home so he could concentrate and paint."

"They stayed to themselves, and the beauty of it was that the residents of New Windsor and Westminster left them alone. They respected their privacy," Mrs. Campbell said.

Mr. Still - considered among the nation's most important artists, along with such fellow abstract-expressionists as Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Barnett Newman - died in 1980.

Mrs. Still resided at the farm until her death.

"She remained an extremely private person," said Fred S. Stalford, who has been her attorney for more than 20 years.

Mrs. Still emerged from her self-imposed privacy last year, when she approved the donation of more than 2,000 of her husband's works, which had been stored in rural Maryland, to a museum that will be built to house them in Denver.

Graveside services were held Tuesday at Pipe Creek Cemetery near New Windsor.

In addition to her stepdaughters, Mrs. Still is survived by a brother, Frank Garske of Yucca Valley, Calif.; two sisters, Peggie Ward of Juneau, Alaska, and Beth Wisecarver of McMinnville, Ore.; and two nephews.

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