In Memoriam

Elizabeth Gurrier, 1930-2011

Elizabeth Gurrier

1930-2011

Gifted designer/craftman and gardener


Yarmouth Port- Elizabeth “Betty” Gurrier, 80, of Yarmouth Port, died peacefully at home on Tuesday, August 30th. Betty struggled with degenerative illnesses which became more acute after the passing of her husband, Bob Gurrier, late last year. Contrary to the spirited opinions of Betty on the topic, her children wish to publish this obituary in her memory.

Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, November 1930, Betty was the daughter of the late Charles and Mariana Sunderland. She received a B.A. in Art History, at Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA after which she spent two years in the New York City business world, taking evening courses in copper enameling, ceramics and silk screening.

After marrying Bob Gurrier, her husband of 56 years, they moved to West Hartford, CT and raised three children. Betty did graduate work in education at St. Joseph College, West Hartford, and continued courses in design, figure study and sculpture at the University of Hartford. She exhibited sculpture in juried shows and galleries in Connecticut.

Before moving to New Hampshire, a stitchery seminar sent her in a new direction, and soft figures and quilts developed. After several years of working with colored fabrics, she began imposing a new discipline--that of designing strictly with off-white fabrics, primarily unbleached muslin. Only the most soft and subtle touches of color were introduced in her stitchery. Both hand and machine stitchery was used, along with quilting, trapunto and stuffing. The effect was to create light and shade as a “hard” sculptor would do. Without the emotional impact of color, the essence of the design became the interplay between texture and form.

In the late 1980’s, she began working in a new direction--designing one-of-a-kind wall hangings in color. She used textile paints and quilting on cotton and silk. Betty continued to experiment with design until her passing.

Betty taught workshops, lectured and acted on many jury panels in this country and Canada. She was on the New Hampshire Percent for Art Selection Committee for public buildings. Her work has been exhibited internationally at many museums and galleries, including the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, the American Craft Museum, the North Carolina Art Museum, and the International Quilt Study Center at Univ. of Nebraska, among others.

Aside from a successful career in art, Betty was an avid gardener. She transformed the landscape of every home she lived in, applying the same talent for texture and color that inspired her design. She also had a very big heart for pets, at times allowing the family to accumulate, arguably, too many of them.

She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law Pat Gurrier and Brook Higginbotham of Yarmouth Port; her daughter Joan McDonald of Yarmouth Port; her son and daughter-in-law Jeff Gurrier and Karen Batchelder of Nottingham, NH; her grandchildren Rebekah McDonald, Renee McDonald, and Brenda McDonald; her great grandson Rueben Fields, and her beloved poodle Sparky.

The family would like to acknowledge the loving care and kindness provided to Betty in her final year by many exceptional local health care professionals. In particular, Heidi Scott, CNA of Peace of Mind and the following CNAs from Bayada Nurses: Corrette, Latoya, Sonja, Marcalin, Melissa, Tara and Laude.

Gifts in her memory may be made to Poodle Rescue of New England, P.O. Box 441447, Somerville, MA 02144 and the Cape Cod Museum of Art’s education program, P.O. Box 2034, Dennis, MA 02638.