Jenny Steelquist, artist, singer and art teacher at Port Angeles High School, died on April 2, 2013, from complications of multiple myeloma, a blood and bone marrow cancer. Jenny was 60 years old.
A gifted teacher, she taught art at Port Angeles High School from 1994 until illness forced her retirement in 2009. She developed a strong rapport with her students, guiding them to find the artist within themselves and be courageous in their creative expression.
Her studio teaching methods exposed students to art history, contemporary exhibitions at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center and using performance or visual media to explore important questions.
Jenny was born in Seattle in 1952 to Ralph Hall, a Seattle firefighter
, and Mildred Cumle Hall, a nurse. She attended school in West Seattle, graduating from West Seattle High School in 1970.
She attended Fairhaven College and Western Washington University, graduating in 1975 with a degree in art education. In 2001, she completed a master's degree in art education from Lesley University.
In 1975, she married Bob Steelquist, her school sweetheart. Together, they built their home on Chicken Coop Road in Sequim and raised two sons, Peter and Daniel. Her mother, Mildred, died in 1999.
Jenny is well-known as a singer, comfortable with folk music, rock 'n' roll, rhythm and blues, jazz standards, musical theater, opera and choral music.
She performed as a solo artist and with the '70s Bellingham band Wet Paint, Sequim groups The Blenders and The Elderberries, and the Peninsula Singers.
She performed lead roles in "HMS Pinafore" and "The Mikado" in the Port Angeles Light Opera Association's first two seasons, returning in a supporting role in "Into the Woods" in 2007.
As an artist, she worked in a variety of media, including acrylic and oil pastel, but was also an accomplished ceramicist. She showed her work in several exhibitions, including at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center.
Jenny is survived by her husband, Bob; sons Peter and Daniel; sister Kathy Butler of Fairfield, Iowa; father Ralph "Barney" Hall of Sequim; uncle Ned Cumle of Bainbridge Island; and many cousins.
Throughout her illness, she was sustained by contact with distant family, lifelong friends, former students and musical collaborators.
As a legacy to her artistic achievement and commitment as an educator, her family has established the Jenny Steelquist Art Saves Lives fund. Donations may be made to the Jenny Steelquist Art Saves Lives fund at any branch of First Federal Savings and Loan Association.
A memorial concert to celebrate her life will take place later in the spring.