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Harriett Spira

Harriett Spira passed to Heaven on the 11th of February, — 2005. Because of her extraordinary intelligence and artistic prowess, — by special dispensation from God, she was spared the usual visit to Hell — where almost everyone first goes and is made to understand the damages — one did to others during one&

39;s life. Harriett&

39;s extraordinary — perception always comprehended any such damage, and she always apologized — to the one she had offended.

Born June 7, 1914, she started her artistic work at age — 4 when she was bedridden with measles. She drew and drew and drew. At — age 7, (1921), she submitted a silhouette cut from black paper to a Chicago — newspaper which had a children&

39;s page entitled "The Topsy-Turvy Club." — Her work won first prize and was published.

Also at age 4, in 1918, she sang "When Johnny Comes Marching — Home Again" to a rapt small audience. She was a highly gifted actress — and occasionally took a role in her husband&

39;s plays produced at the — Quartz Theater in Ashland in the 1980&

39;s. Harriett loved living in — Ashland. The mountains around her stimulated her painting. She loved traveling, — and always drew going to strange places.

A peculiar statement of hers last year was, "Why not — — + — = 0?" She had rediscovered the field of two elements, originally — discovered by Galois, a brilliant 18-year-old mathematician.

I tried once to get her to convert to orthodox Judaism, — (my religion), and she studied hard for a few months and decided against — it. She did not want to be restricted in any way.

She took art classes at UC Berkeley, Chicago, Durham — NC, Lansing MI, New York, London, Paris. She did drawings and watercolors — in Israel.

She had two children, Constance and Bradford, both formidable — artists. I eventually adopted them.

Harriett's mother was a painter of realistic scenes. — As a young woman she married a charming man from the Midwest, a traveling — salesman for a cigarette company. He kept a locked trunk in their bedroom. — The maid advised Harriett's mother to open it. She jimmied the lock and — found a large number of love letters from women on his route. She divorced — him. Obviously Harriett's strong personality descended from both parents. —

While Harriett's mother was single again, to make ends — meet she rented rooms of her home to Vaudeville performers. Their wild — lifestyle greatly influenced Harriett. Her mother eventually married a — solid German craftsman interior decorator.

Harriett and Bob met at the Henry George School in Chicago. — In 1954 I drove from Berkeley to Chicago in a 1937 black Cadillac, very — heavy, and impressively high in gasoline consumption. My sister Leta had — been a very skilled and brainy assistant to the School Director, John — Lawrence Monroe. She left to devote herself to her classical piano studies. — On my landing in Chicago I talked with John and he hired me as an administrative — assistant.

Harriett worked there also and was in the middle of a — divorce. We went to dinner a few times, and I romanced her by playing — the piano in my Near North Side digs. She took me to her apartment on — the North Side where I met her two children, Connie and Brad. There was — ongoing friction with her ex-husband about getting the children to her — on weekends. Seeing the situation I talked her into going with me back — to California, and getting the children for a few weeks in summers. Agreement — was reached and we married on November 22,1954. We went back to Berkeley, — and we both worked while I completed my math Ph.D at UC Berkeley.

In preparation is a set of books compiled from slides — of her paintings and sculpture. Harriett wrote and illustrated a children's — book "The First Peep." She recently completed a second children's book, — "Tick-Tock the Clock" about a clock who one day decided to run backward. — It caused trouble for the family at the beginning of the workday.

We spent 50 years together, working in the arts. She — brought dignity and a touch of class to all other endeavors.

Survivors are her husband Robert; two children, Constance — Simonsen, Medford, OR, Bradford Burdick of San Jose, CA; sister Mignon — Winegar, Arcata, CA; grandson Dakin Maher, CA; great-grandchildren Autumn — and Merwin Maher, CA.