Elinor Peck Severinghaus
1925 - 2015
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Elinor Peck Severinghaus An artist of distinction and gifted teacher as well as a loving wife and mother, died on March 16th, 2015 after a long illness. Elinor was born on January 10, 1925, in the Mam region of the western highlands of Guatemala, the first child of H. Dudley Peck and Dorothy Miller Peck, Presbyterian missionaries. She was schooled at home by her mother using the Calvert School Correspondence method until age 13, when she was sent to Philadelphia to Friends Select School, and after a year, to the Northfield School for Girls in Massachusetts. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1946. She worked as a traveling fellow of the National Presbyterian Church. She obtained an M.A. in religious education from New York University in 1949. She met John W. Severinghaus while he was working on Radar at MIT in 1943, and they were married in Northfield in the Sage Chapel on August 28, 1948, exactly 26 years after her parents had been wed in the same place. After John received his MD from Columbia University in 1949, Elinor spent two years teaching at the Kent School in Cooperstown, NY, while he interned there. In 1951, they served the Native American community at two Presbyterian national mission hospitals in Ganado, AZ and Embudo, NM. Her first child was born a month after moving to Philadelphia while John began training in anesthesiology at the University of Pennsylvania. She and John moved to Bethesda, MD, when he was doctor-drafted into the US Public Health Service, working from 1953 to 1958 at the National Institutes of Health. In 1958, Elinor, John and three children, Ed, Jean, and Wendy, moved to Ross, CA, when John became Professor of Anesthesia at UCSF. Jeffrey, her fourth child, arrived the next year. Along with her deepening interests in Buddhism and increasing appreciation of Unitarian philosophy, she led John to join the Unitarian Congregation of Marin in 1962 where they both have remained active members. She and John spent two sabbatical years with their children in Denmark, and two other sabbaticals in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and at Oxford University. They traveled widely, most often to John's professional meetings. It was in Marin County that Elinor's life as an artist and teacher blossomed. She trained as a watercolorist with Richard Yip in the 1960s and joined the "Sight and Insight" art group in Mill Valley, founded by Richard and Ann O'Hanlon. She was influenced by the works of Carl Jung and explored Zen Buddhism. In 1972, she collaborated with her friend Suzi Martin to publish an illustrated book that expressed Ann O'Hanlon's teachings, "According to Ann". Elinor worked in a variety of media and was a member of the Bay Area abstract expressionist movement. Elinor's paintings and drawings, her writings and teaching, were also profoundly influenced by the spiritual values that she developed in her migration from the Presbyterian Church to Unitarianism, a humanism, an openness, kindness, and generosity that touched not only her children and the young students of her perception workshops, but everyone who was lucky enough to cross paths with her. Elinor remarkably made a friend of almost everyone she met, and, as an artist and teacher, she had an exceptional rapport with children, whom she, like Wordsworth, believed trailed clouds of glory -- their innocence, their immediacy and freshness of perception epitomized what she believed was at the heart of art making. As her friend Joan Sandler wrote in a poem honoring Elinor's 90th birthday, So as you go out and look at your world, pretend you've not seen it before; Just stop still and spy at what catches your eye, and the moment will open the door. A collection of her art is available at http://www. elinorsoeuvre.com/index.html. Elinor Peck Severinghaus is survived by her husband John, by her four children, Edwin, of El Cerrito; Jean, of Greenbrae; Wendy, of Bennington, VT and her partner Milton Djuric; and Jeffrey, of Solana Beach, CA and his wife Lynne Talley, by her grandchildren Alex and Sarah Severinghaus, by her brother, William J. Peck of Chapel Hill, NC and her sister Dorothy and husband Stanley Foster of Sautee, GA.

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Published in Marin Independent Journal on Mar. 17, 2015.
Memories & Condolences
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8 entries
December 30, 2015
Dear Wendy, it has been many years and I was looking you up and found who is sure to be your mom. So sorry she has gone on, quite a gal. I found a post card of your gallery showing in Mill Valley in 1990. Wondering what you are up to? I'd love to hear from you, Nancy Connolly Blum nacblum@gmail.com
December 4, 2015
Betty&I would see her and John@the noontime classical music concerts@UCSF&endup sitting@the same table upstairs@theMoffitCafeAfterwards.I wuz privy to see her artwork when she wuz moved to her new digs@the senior assisted living center. Her artwork lives on.
June 10, 2015
Elinor and I were Spanish majors at Wellesley and shared and loved Jorge
Guillen's literature classes.He had come to the college after the Spanish civil war with his family, as had several other faculty members.Elinor and I shared many a cafedito at the Well,our campus hangout.
may her memory be eternal...(Greek Orthodox Prayer)
Helen Antoniades Vamvas.
April 22, 2015
Hello Dear Jean: A tough time I'm sure. It doesn't surprise me that your mom was so interesting and talented as are you. You are in my thoughts. I hope to see you soon. Love, Sally Walters, Sacramento
March 20, 2015
She set a lovely and stong example, and it seems like she enjoyed doing it. Although I never met her, I know Jean, and I am thinking her beautiful soul shines through her children.
Tracie Lirette
March 18, 2015
As a member of Elinor's yoga community at SMC I can say we loved her and we miss her. I remember the day she held my hand and looked in my eye and said to me all I can do is trust.

My sincere condolences and love to all of Elinor's family. When ever she spoke of you her eyes would light up. How much she loved you all.

To a very great lady, ELINOR. You are missed. We all love you very much. Lynn Weinberger yoga teacher
March 17, 2015
Elinor was a very special person - one of a kind. We will miss her deeply. John, our hearts go out to you. Your devotion to her always and particularly in her last years was a beautiful example of selfless love that we can all learn from.
Franklin and Mary Scamman
March 17, 2015
The world has lost a beautiful soul. I too joined the Marin Fellowship of Unitarians in about 1960, and loved Elinor. I will miss her. Sid and I now live in Santa Rosa, and attend the UU Congregation of Santa Rosa. Remember the Oak Tree she fought to save as you drive up the hill to the Marin UU?Love to John
Betty Gordon
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