NEW LONDON – Adrienne Campbell, wife of Donald Campbell, mother of Ian, grandmother of Jada, mother-in-law of Pei, sister of Eunice Golia, Janetta Montuori, and Victor Werany (all of whom survive her), died at the New London Hospital on Jan. 17, 2017, from the lingering effects of a stroke which had partially incapacitated her eight years ago.
The cherished friend of many people who admired and loved her during a lifetime, Adrienne was 87 years old, having been born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Nov. 20, 1929. Her parents Howard and Lorena Werany predeceased her. Growing up in Brooklyn, she expressed an early interest in drawing, often sketching fanciful people and comical animals. After attending girls high school where her art talents were recognized, she was awarded a full scholarship to the Cooper Union Art School, one of very few young people so honored.
Upon graduation she was employed at Fortune magazine and became good friends with another employee, the eminent photographer Walker Evans. Later Adrienne worked as a picture researcher and book designer at McGraw-Hill and Harcourt Brace. During her evening hours she studied photography in classes with Berenice Abbot and Alexei Brodovich, both of whom were renowned artist/photographers. Adrienne's art training was employed in a different way during a period in the late 1950s when she taught art at Spelman College, a liberal arts institution for black students in Atlanta. Her stories of the harassments she encountered from local officials, because of her friendly associations with her pupils, are grim if not surprising.
In 1960, her thirtieth year, she moved to Boston after being offered employment at Ginn and Company. There, her book designs were of an excellence that was appreciated and frequently honored.
In 1961, Adrienne married Donald Campbell, an art faculty member of Colby Junior College in New London. The next year a son, Ian, was born; the couple then made their home in Elkins/New London for the next 50-plus years. In addition to expertly mothering her son, Adrienne led an interesting, active life. For a number of years she maintained a business in the region, which required her to act as calligrapher (an art she had practiced since adolescence), design company brochures, photograph weddings and local meetings, and take portraits of children. In the 1970s Adrienne took some 500 explanatory photos for Donald's book Using The Potter's Wheel. Her more personal photography was pursued as well. She taught art at several colleges and her work was frequently exhibited in individual and group shows.
Adrienne's interest in the welfare of children led her to work with Marge Kennedy at Marge's New London nursery. As the seasons required, she taught skiing and swimming to many youngsters in the area.
A new episode in Adrienne's life, focusing in large part on travel, began in 1967, when Donald was given a sabbatical leave. He, she and Ian traveled extensively in Western Europe and then settled for eight months in Aarhus, Denmark. Her attempts to speak Danish matched those of Garrison Keillor: Very tough sledding. A second sabbatical in 1974 was spent largely in Heusden, Holland, and during a third leave in 1981, she and Donald lived in Burgundy, France. Adrienne photographed the vineyards at nearby Chablis and was glared at by vine tenders who felt she must be a government tax spy. The French hate taxes among other things. During these sabbaticals, Donald, as an art history teacher, visited museums to see original art; as a ceramist, he worked in potteries and potted.
In 1990, Adrienne, with much practice, became a potter, as she and Donald (now retired from college) worked at the South Danbury Pottery making functional and sculptural ceramics. Her pots were quite lovely, celadon bowls and covered jars. Her interest in ceramics persisted until her stroke 19 years later.
Adrienne loved to read history, Shakespeare, memoirs. She listened to music by the hour, particularly that of Bach and pre–Baroque composers. A musician herself, she played the recorder with an ensemble of local friends.
In later years, she and Donald enjoyed a number of commercial cruises: to China, Russia, Ephesus, Israel and to the "Christmas markets along the Rhine."
A master chef, Adrienne's meals were always looked forward to and lavishly praised by hungry guests. Her cookbook library is awesome.
In 2009, the stroke destroyed her power of speech and partially paralyzed her. She remained at home in Elkins where she was looked after by three excellent, loving caregivers. Friends and relatives came from Florida, New York and California. Adrienne enjoyed seeing them, assuming they didn't unduly interfere with her favorite TV programs.
I, her husband, treasured and loved this wonderful partner and friend, and the life she helped us build, for 56 years.
Now, at the unavoidable inevitability of her death, we will say "Goodbye" with great grief and sadness. "Goodbye, dear Adrienne," and may "flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."
Published in Concord Monitor from Jan. 23 to Jan. 24, 2017.