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Richard C. Pickering 1939-2012
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December 06, 2013
Gitte, I too chose this seemingly random time to look at this page. Your entry helped me write my own.
love to you, tina
December 06, 2013
Even now so long after his passing tears well up in my eyes as I think of my good friend and mentor. Pickering was an inspiration all-ways. He was an amazing and profound storyteller, an artist of the "shaman" kind, though he would find something mocking to say about me using that word to describe him. My love for him and his friend and partner Rebecca Andrews, and their family is everlasting. We went on many adventures together, and there was alway a nourishing or humorous story at the end of our journey. I was like a moth to a flame when he told a story. Pickering always saw through the disingenuous, even more so after his brain injury. His unconditional acceptance of me and life was gift I will use the rest of my life.
November 02, 2013
I am not sure what prompted me today to find out about Pickering.I am not sure someone will look at this note. I am an instructor, and I tell my students that I took basic Design three times- not because I failed but because Pickering's stories challenged and inspired. He changed me and my life, and the seeds he planted bear fruit every day I teach when I try to bring the same personal care to my students that he gave to me. Thank you Pickering!
Gitte Maronde, Chicago
April 20, 2013
What brings me here to this place, having not seen Dick since 1969?
A fine spring day on Texada Island.
In 1968, Dick visited me and my young family, out in the country, near Franklin. It was a fine spring day.
I think of Dick every spring, with warmth and gratitude.
January 04, 2013
Everything is something to be contemplated in the world of Lawrence Hall & the UofO Art Dept in general. That was life growing up the son of Bob James. Everytime that I use the simple back scratcher that Pickering elegantly crafted, and graciously gave to me, I am thankful that there was someone who I encounterd there that would laugh in a contagious fashion at how simple it all could be if you allowed it. Thanks Pickering God Bless.
January 03, 2013
Dick Pickering is a man that will always be remembered in our family. My father Bob James cherished their friendship. Thank you for all the sweet years of friendship you gave my father.
December 20, 2012
I have been Richards neighbor for 20 some years. I remember watching from a distance as he worked diligently to relearn how to walk, speak and recover his lost skills as the result of his surgery. He was absolutely the most determined individual I've ever met. His curiosity and continueing amazement with new discoveries was refreshing and a reminder not to take life or people for granted. Richard completed many projects for me and they always reflected his stamp of individuality and creativity. Richard was a frequent guest for dinner and I loved cooking for him because he always had a great appetite and was a very hearty eater( unlike my children when they were home ). I miss Richard but know he is off on the greatest adventure ever.
Beki Holbook
December 20, 2012
I have spent summers with my daughter in Eugene for at least ten years now. Richard was her neighbor and often dropped by to visit and we enjoyed his company for many shared dinners. He was always cheerful and interested in everything around him. He was a very good man.
Wanda A. Holbrook
December 20, 2012
Richard was a neighbor and friend. The qualities I remember most were his gentleness ans his positive take on life.
His sense of humor was unfailing and he had a certain sweetness about him. I will miss him.
Sheila L. Link
December 20, 2012
I thank my lucky stars to have been one Pickering's students. I don't believe I've met anyone who is smart like he was smart. He let work inform him, and I loved being around that. His enthusiasm was contagious. Every minute was a chance to learn in Dick's world. He made 190 magic. I was crazy for the wooden latch that held his office door open. It was simple, elegant, durable & effective. He had a knack for infusing problem solving with poetry.

It's silly to think about all the “what if”s and forked roads we encounter, but I'm so happy I stumbled upon some of Dick's.
He will always be my mentor.
December 18, 2012
Here's Richard back in the '60's
December 14, 2012
It's so interesting to hear from the students whom Richard influenced. I attended his design class one day when our families were visiting.
I just want to add that he was a wonderful father to his young boys. He and his wife Carolyn spent an hour putting those two to bed, roughhousing, joking and, of course, book reading.
I remember one winter day watching Richard as he walked around the house talking to us with a ball of clay in his in his hand. In the space of 10 minutes, he had formed a neat little dish with decorative additions. I had enough time struggling with clay to think I had seen magic in his fingers. I have a large covered jar Richard made for his graduate show which reminds me every day of how talented he was.
December 12, 2012
i met pickering in the summer of '80 when i arrived at U of O. i was hoping to be admitted despite my failure to do any work in high school that would qualify me for admission to a university.
we became friends almost instantly and he offered me the newly vacant job of "art department janitor" which was mostly about looking after 190 lawrence hall and keeping the tools in some sort of working order. i took his basic design class that first summer and he offered a share of his office in 190 and handed me a key.
we spent alot of the next 5 years hanging out there and i became something of a teaching assistant to dick, helping with his very popular basic design class and assisting other students with the tools and various technical challenges they encountered in fulfilling the class assignments. we kept a bottle of ezra brooks whiskey in the office and a big coffee pot in the main room and sometimes spent the entire day there messing around and experimenting.
he used to start off the design class apologizing that while he was "the teacher", the students collectively had many times his experience and that he was there to learn as much as he was there to teach. this would cause much consternation and nervousness. he would then spend the rest of the term relieving that anxiety, encouraging everyone to take risks, find their creative voice and to keep their eyes open but also draw from the lessons they had already learned.
he'd say some things seemed impossible and that some might laugh if he planned on walking to south america but that if he put one foot in front of the other he would surely arrive there. (he didn't yet know about the darien gap!)
he was consistent and gentle in encouraging his students to trust their instincts and experience and to experiment and take risks. the class reviews were always interesting and a little scary. 1 part art/ 2 parts psychology and people definitely went out on the limb sometimes. he could find something to say about even the most impossibly convoluted and impenetrable work.
one thing he didn't appreciate much was an obvious lack of effort but i never heard him be cruel or condescending in pointing it out.
he took me under his wing and became something of a surrogate father to me. we developed a deep bond but never once spoke of it or our feelings for one another. i loved him but never told him so and when i reflect on that now i think he must have preferred it that way because i would have gladly said this to him.
i became part of the fantastic flock of odd birds that had gathered around the department and i feel so immensely grateful to dick for welcoming me in and giving me a place to be when i knew no one and was so far away from home.

the shop i built out back is my not so unconscious attempt to recreate the feel of 190 lawrence.
i still use the custom pickering backscratcher he sent me and i keep one of the pencils he had made up after his surgeries....
"have a good one!".
it's sitting on top of the chalkboard waiting to be sharpened someday.

i missed saying good bye to him but i take him with me wherever i go.
sending lots of love to his family, especially rebecca and the kids
and to everyone else lucky enough to have known him.
December 10, 2012
Richard was my neighbor for the past eight years; he was always an inspiration to me: riding his bike every day while he could and sharing his upbeat and grateful attitude. Thank you for this tribute to him.
December 10, 2012
Dick: You inspired me as a researcher, an instructor, and as a human being. Your insights on our projects was invaluable. Because of you, many people with cognitive impairments are receiving better services. Your resilience and curiosity is a model to us all. I'm sure you are finding interesting things to do on the other side. So very grateful to have known you.
December 10, 2012
I had the great honor to assist in the care of the good Mr. Pickering, and can say that though I only knew him for the last year, he was one of my favorite patients...every visit he wowed me with things that he had done...some that defied logic, others resplendent. I am truly sorry to hear of his passing.
December 09, 2012
It all happened in 190 Lawrence, at the U of O. There was a time when I thought that wonderful room would be part of my life forever: 20-foot high ceilings with pipes going across it. A bank of tall, high windows facing north. Outside walls of brick covered with ivy that had birds nesting in it. Polished concrete floors. Two huge library tables for working at. Is my memory exaggerating when it tells me you could fit 15 people around one of those tables?

It was all about the work and the stories. There was a wood shop and a kiln area attached to the big room. The wood shop had all the tools in it you needed to do simple woodworking. Dick was inspired by Joseph Cornell, an eccentric bachelor who made 3 dimensional collages in old boxes from bird's eggs, doll heads, old prints, bits of string, etc. The detritus of life intrigued Dick. Things like dryer lint, toilet paper rolls, popsicle sticks, things that there were multiples of, to be found or free. He used a band saw to slice thin pieces from a knarly piece of firewood and then used those to make a fine box with finger-jointed corners. He applied a hundred coats of paste wax to it, which he buffed and buffed by hand, while he told the class a story.

When you walked into one of those Basic Design classes, you never knew what was going to happen. It was exciting. He would get going on a story about the weather that came over the hills, from the Coast Range to his house, facing west on Cantrell Road. After 5 minutes you'd ask yourself what it had to do with Basic Design. At 15 minutes you had pictures in your mind of tumultuous clouds in color and the mountains and the fields and the wind. At 30 minutes you had a bunch of questions brewing in your mind about what the deeper meaning of all this was but you couldn't think about it right then because you didn't want to miss a word he said. At 45 minutes, you felt you had been on a wonderful journey, and witnessed a magic trick, and had someone take your hand and put it on the beating heart at the source of everything. Whew! You didn't know what it meant, but it seemed like you could figure it out if you kept coming to class and tried to do the assignments he gave. These were things like the first assignment, given fall term in September when Halloween was a month away: “Make something to wear on your head that makes the inside of you visible.”
December 09, 2012
My memory is a bit cloudy of exactly which classes I had with Dick as my teacher but I know he was one of the influential personalities in the fine arts program at the U of O that I will never forget.

In those days Bob James would call everyone by their last name:

You need to go talk to Pickering, Wanderman, and if he can't answer that go find O'Connell.

So, my memory is a cloud of last names, many with beards, some with red suspenders, all with great ideas.

Being part of that group and knowing Dick Pickering was one of the most influential experiences of my life, it was a kind of growing up that I will never forget.

My condolences to Dick's family.
December 08, 2012
This is a great tribute to an extraordinary life. Thank you.
December 08, 2012
Richard's enthusiasm for life, kindness to others, inventiveness and sense of humor are what I remember him for. His brother Gary/Guido, our boys and I were close friends with his family in the years of his marriage to Carolyn, but I never saw him after our marriages broke up. My son visited him last year, but Richard had no idea who he was, though he was glad to talk. I guess it's silly to wonder what he would have done with his gifts if he hadn't had the brain tumor.
December 08, 2012
RCP#3, if I live to be as old as you did, I am only 15 years behind you. I hope you have many discoveries for me to see on the other side. Harold & K
December 08, 2012
A few years ago, I went to a Quaker memorial, where people gathered in a circle and spoke when they wanted to, about whatever they wanted to, in relation to the person who had passed away.

I hope those of you who knew Dick and have thoughts about him will use this online guest book as a way of coming together to remember and love Dick. The guest book will stay on line for a month. You may attach a photo if you'd like. Please feel free to get ahold of me through the contact link following this post.

Thank you for reading this and for caring about Dick. I loved him as my teacher, first husband, and father of our children.
December 08, 2012
Dick was gentle, kind, insightful, and easy to be around. When I complained that I ‘had' to do something, he would gently remind me that I could choose to think differently. Instead of saying, “I have to,” I could say, “I get to”. “All of life is an opportunity.” One Oregon newspaper article quoted him as saying “it seems important to me to see (challenges) as an opportunity, not as a frustration.”

In April 2005 he went to Tucson AZ to speak at a convention for brain-injured people. He told me, “this trip was really difficult for me and on the very edge of what I can do…. but that's where you grow. You don't learn anything if you don't push past your comfort zone.” My experience of Dick was that he always tried to become better, not bitter. He amazed me with his positive attitude in struggling with his disabilities.

Dick was given a whole chapter in the book, “Courage to Give,” by Jackie Waldman (2000). It is a book of inspiring stories of people who triumphed over tragedy to make a difference in the world. The book was recommended by Oprah's book club. Dick's chapter was entitled, “Always a Teacher”. In it he states, “In my old life, I used to have to do things. Now I get to do them.” When giving presentations, he would encourage students to not be judgmental. He said, “If you're judgmental, you will miss the fact that errors are wonderful because we learn a lot from them.” In the last paragraph, he commented that he wished he could do some of the things he could do before, but felt like he had learned a lot about dealing with difficulties. He wrote that he had a lot more to learn, and to teach. He also said, “We are all different and we are all the same. Every person has a right to be accepted. I used to be a teacher. People say I still am.”

Dick was interviewed by a reporter, who noticed one of many quotes on the huge chalkboard in his house: “The most significant behavioral error is, I think, to be judgmental.” One time he told me that “when problems occur, look inward rather then outward.” Dick was wonderfully insightful and a courageous survivor. He was kind, compassionate, and a life-long learner and giver. He was a very curious man, always wondering about things that most people never stopped to consider. He had a fascination with life and always stopped to smell the flowers. He made a difference in this world and will always be an inspiration!
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