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OFFNER--Elliot Melville, 79, of Washington Avenue in Northampton, MA, passed away peacefully on Friday, October 15, 2010 at his home with his beloved wife, Rosemary at his side, after a long battle with cancer. Offner was born in Brooklyn, NY on July 12, 1931, the son of the late Samuel and Helen (Wolowitz) Offner. He was raised in Brooklyn and attended Erasmus Hall High School and the Cooper Union before receiving a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. from Yale University. In 1960 he joined the faculty at Smith College, where he was appointed Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities in 1974. He has been a Visiting Artist at Brandeis, Yale, the Royal College of Art in London, and various colleges at Cambridge University in England. He was a Life Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge. Offner is best known as a sculptor in the academic tradition, working in many sculptural media, including carved wood, clay, plaster, and bronze, and his subjects included both animals and human figures. But he was also known for the great variety of his artistic outlets which included bookmaking, painting, graphic art and photography. Offner has received many honors during his long and distinguished career, including awards from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the National Council on the Arts and Humanities, and gold medals from the National Sculpture Society, of which he is Past President, and the National Academy of Design, of which he was First Vice President. Offner was named Master Wildlife Artist for 2003 by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, WI. Along with the exhibition, Offner was the focus of an impressive four-page spotlight on sculpture in the prestigious contemporary art magazine American Art Collector. His art work - both sculpture and graphic arts - is found in many private and public collections including the Hirshhorn Museum, the Brooklyn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Huntington Sculpture Garden, the Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield, MA, and Brookgreen Gardens in Pawleys Island, SC, which dedicated the Elliot and Rosemary Offner Sculpture Learning and Research Center in 2007. His many commissions include a monumental bronze and granite water sculpture in downtown Minneapolis, sculptures at Converse College (South Carolina), Smith College and the Darien (CT) Library, and a Holocaust Memorial in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. Offner is survived by his wife of 53 years, Rosemary (O'Connell) Offner, his children Helen Ong of Norwalk, CT, Daniel Offner of Santa Monica, CA, and Emily Hollidge of Eagan, MN, his brother Arnold Offner of Newton, MA, and nine grandchildren. A memorial service will be announced at a later date. Interment services will be private at the convenience of the family, and the Czelusniak Funeral Home of Northampton has been entrusted with services. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. (www.dana-farber.org).

Published in The New York Times on Oct. 19, 2010
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