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Hubert George Geahigan

November 3, 1941 - June 20, 2021


  1. REPLY
    Anna Cicirelli says

    George wished to remain very private about his illness and also did not wish to have a public service of any kind after he passed away. It’s nice that we can at least share our remembrances of him here.

    Because of Covid our two figure drawing groups could no longer meet so I was lucky to see him by chance last summer at the Cancer Center when I was there with my Dad for an appointment with his hematologist. Covid protocols required that we were masked up and we kept our distance but were able to have a nice conversation in the waiting room. He mostly talked about how he was really enjoying working in his garden and he actually looked quite good at that time. He had lost some weight but looked healthy, seemed energetic and in good spirits . He also said he was doing a little work in his studio but not as much as he would like.

    I will miss our conversations. George was knowledgeable about many things and had a generous spirit as several of you have expressed. I was fortunate to have been invited to spend time drawing with him in his studio a few years ago where I was able to see some of the work he was doing outside our figure drawing groups. He had an interesting and sophisticated point of view and was thoughtfully engaged by a range of subject matter. His work and studio space reflected that intelligence. I was also most grateful for a bag or two of beautiful produce from his garden on some of those visits.

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    Nancy Dandrow says

    George was a warm and generous person and I enjoyed knowing and drawing with him in the Guild. It always seemed as though things went better when he was there and I think I did better drawings as well. We will all miss him.
    Nancy Dandrow

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    Susan Doster says

    I will miss drawing with George in our Figure Guild, and listening to his stories, on those rare, and so precious, occasions when he would share them with us. I especially enjoyed George’s reminiscing of his life, including his art school years, in NYC, and his early teaching years, at PU. In a way, George’s stories seemed to reconnect me with my own segments in life, when I’ve lived in NYC and, my years, in the early 80’s, as a PU student. I always had a good laugh whenever he told us about his early experiences with the PU art faculty, in the 1970’s. Many of them were then my own instructors, in the 80’s. If only I’d had George’s insights to their characters, back then!

    I will miss learning about how his mind worked as I watched his great figure drawings develop. How many times we got watch as he created yet another Geahigan masterpiece!

    I will miss the occasions when he would compliment the drawing I was doing. For me, this meant, I was genuinely being perceived by an artist whom I revered. What a gift he gave!

    I knew him to be a generous person, whether it was sharing art materials or the extra long ladder he lent me to use for painting the house where I live.

    With awe, I am grateful for your tenacity, George, to keep being yourself through all the years. And, especially, for the truth you showed us through your art.

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    Ying Larimore says

    George was one of my former professors and mentor. He was a great art educator and a talented artist. He taught me so much not only art but gardening. I told him that I never truly graduated. I will miss drawing with him at the Art Museum and at his studio.:-(

    I was very fortunate to have recently spent time with him just talking about art and having some good laughs when he was still himself. He will be missed by so many….

    Rest In Peace George!

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    Dean Upshaw says

    I designed a house for Priscilla and George some years ago. It has remained my favorite . George seem to understand what I was trying to accomplish . And the input from the two of them ( they were always one to me) was outstanding. Even thought we did not see each other much, we remained friends. I did so enjoy their company. I will miss George.

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    Peter Smith says

    George will always mean “kindness and “generosity” to me. He opened the door to higher education and guided me to success in my Purdue years. I will always be grateful…I’m sure many others feel the same way.

    We should all be aware that George had a keen mind, analytical, and he was one of the best critical theorists in art education. His writing was excellent and his prose was always sharp. Yet everything George wrote was kind and generous in spirit.

    George will be missed, and serve as a fine example always.

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    Tijay Le says

    I was George’s personal trainer for years. After his first trainer left, I filled in and was there till George left. Every session, three times a week, he always had an interesting story to tell. Always different and distracted us from his workout. Maybe that was planned! During his workouts, he was in such good physical shape. Could do 99% of everything I wanted him to. Each year for Christmas he would bring me Frango mint chocolates. I only got them from him once a year and loved it.

    I was very fortunate to meet his wife, Priscilla, during my wedding in 2018. It meant a lot to me that he and his wife took the time to attend our special day.

    The conversations George and I had during our one-on-one time at the gym were very special and I am extremely honored to have spent as much time with him as I did. We emailed every once in a while after he told me about his cancer to try and keep in touch. I always looked forward to reading what he had to say.

    There is so much good in George that it would take a lifetime to express it all. George was family to me and I will always keep him in my heart. I pray for Priscilla and their family to mend their hearts for their loss.

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    Hazel and Matthew says

    Lives are drawn stroke-by-stroke. Which is more important, the stroke in its moment or the final composition visible only at life’s end? For George, the strokes seemed to matter more. He developed many signature strokes that grew out of his personality. One such stroke became a ritual. It first arose during a visit George and Priscilla made to Toronto many years ago. George drove the four of us around to explore every art supplies store in the area with him. At one store he found a ream of discounted linen paper. He was pleased with his purchase. Next visit to Toronto paper was on the agenda. Several visits later he filled the trunk and back seat of their car with reams and reams of various sorts of fine paper. Too much to haul back to West Lafayette, so stacks were carefully prepared in our garage to ensure that the paper would survive without moldering before he could return to collect it. The ritual continued until a more recent visit when he discovered that the owner of his paper source had retired and sold the store. The new owners lacked the eye and connections that could yield bargains on rare paper finds. George was devastated, and Priscilla’s reassurances that his accumulated stockpile would outlast him did not cheer him up. Disappointment etched his face until we reached the giant Asian grocery store, and another of his signature strokes took over.

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    Bob Sabol says

    George was one of the kindest people I ever met. He was my mentor from the time I began at Purdue in 1995 until he retired. We worked together to build the Art Education program and it still is one of the best in the country thanks to the firm foundation he provided. The countless graduates of the program have carried his legacy forward by modeling the insightful instruction and kind caring support for students for which he was so well-known. I always knew I could go to George for sound advice and guidance. He had a kind of wisdom that demonstrated his critical thinking and kind loving support for everyone. Our warm conversations over many cups of coffee taught me important lessons about life and what matters most. I can remember spending time in his home together with Pricilla and enjoying our time together so much. George was one of my best professional and personal friends and I will always think kindly of him and who he was. I miss you, George.

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    Sue (Hannah) Perry says

    George was one of my two major professors during my studies in art education. I did not realize that he & I started the same year, 1977, at Purdue. He was the first teacher I had to model & require introspection before action. He modeled kindness, gentility and a quiet calm.
    I reached out to him decades later to serve as a judge for our Youth Art Exhibition at TAF but wasn’t sure he would even remember who I was – he did & generously donated his time & heart for children’s art.
    I clearly remember, as a senior, our small cohort was invited to his beautiful home for dinner. That was the ultimate! We felt that we entered a botanical garden & museum. So special! I wish I could have told him that 35 years later, I was teaching at an art college & have hosted my own classes for a meal at my home where I strive to make the experience memorable for them as well. George was the impetus for inspiring so many more art educators- the ripples continue…
    He will be missed but his legacy continues.

    • REPLY
      Shaun Geahigan says

      Growing up in Connecticut and spending a lot of time with my grandmother (George’s mom, Marie Geahigan), I heard a lot about my uncle George. I heard how smart he was, and how hard he had to work to become a successful professor of Art History at Purdue University in Indiana. I noticed that there was a real sense of respect for what George had accomplished among my family members.
      Unfortunately, because we lived in different places, I only had few chances to actually spend time with my uncle George, over the years.
      Every time we did have a chance to hang out with Uncle George, it was very special to me, and I always looked up to him.
      George was a very thoughtful man… very gentle, very kind, and always seemed to encourage a higher level of thinking, somehow. He was the first person in my whole family to go to college, and he seemed to know some thing that the rest of my family didn’t really understand.

      And while he seemed to be very worldly and knowledgeable, I also remember him being very sweet and dear – especially to his mom, Marie. I always remember how close he and my grandmother were.

      I also remember the strong love and connection between my father, Derrel, and uncle George. I remember how close my dad and his brother George were. I remember the happiness in the air whenever my uncle George was going to come out to visit. I remember my sister, Tiffany, and I, being so excited to visit with uncle George!

      Looking back on my childhood and adolescence, I have realized that my uncle George helped me to feel able to be successful in going to college and becoming someone important… to feel confident that I had what it took to become a college graduate, and someone who had something important to contribute to the world.

      Without the history of my uncle George working so hard to go to college and becoming a successful man, it would have been much more difficult for me to see myself following suit. My uncle George was the pioneer for our family, in the realm of collegiate success, and I have heard many stories that proved how difficult it was for him to do so.

      I am so grateful for George and glad to have him as an uncle… and very proud of him.

      I know that I am not the only one proud to have George in our family… everyone in our family was proud to have George as a member of our family!
      Whether it be as an uncle, as a brother, as a son, or any other way, we were all very proud of George!

      We will miss you dearly, George!

      – Shaun Geahigan, San Diego

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    Lynn M Cheeseman says

    George was a wonderful friend and neighbor from the time we moved down the road. We never knew when the doorbell would ring, and there would stand George with a huge bag of Swiss chard from his garden, a delicious casserole (his gourmet mac n cheese was scrumptious!), or his favorite and most frequent gift – a yummy fruit pie!
    In return, my lifelong farmer husband Phil provided George with advice and repairs to keep his garden going when gas-powered tools failed.
    He and Priscilla shared meals, our children’s milestones, and wide ranging conversations over our 30 years as neighbors. We have been blessed to have George in our lives, and we miss him every day.
    I think this poem from his memorial service says what our hearts could not.
    Celebration of (Your) Life
    We are here to celebrate your life, and the measuee of its worth.
    And every single life you touched, while you were here on earth.
    We wish to pay our last respects, that’s why we all are here.
    To thank you for your friendship, and all the memories we hold dear.
    It’s been a privilege to know you, we were family, not just friends.
    And we’ll carry you in spirit, until we meet again.

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    Lynn and Phil Cheeseman says

    From the time we moved down the road from the Geahigans, George was a wonderful friend and neighbor. We never knew when the doorbell would ring, and there would stand George with a giant bag of Swiss chard from his garden, a yummy casserole (his gourmet mac n cheese was scrumptious!), or his favorite culinary masterpiece, a fruit pie!

    This poem from his memorial service says what our hearts cannot.

    In Celebration of (Your) Life
    Jodi L Daly

    We are here to celebrate your life, and the measure of its worth.
    And every single life you touched, while you were here on earth.
    We wish to pay our last respects, that’s why we all are here.
    To thank you for your friendship, and all the memories we hold dear.
    It’s been a privilege to know you, we are family, not just friends.
    And we’ll carry you in spirit, until we meet again.

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    Cindy Borgmann says

    It is with heavy heart I hear of George’s passing. He was a favorite colleague of mine, one I would always gravitate to for thoughtful conversation and unique perspectives. He was most supportive, a thinker, and so kind hearted. I have missed his critical questions and analytical voice in art education since retirement. He left a most memorable footprint that will not be forgotten. You are missed George.

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    Lois Petrovich-Mwaniki says

    I will never forget the wonderfully enlightening courses that I took with George Geahigan at Purdue University in the early 1980s. He introduced his students to many current art educators that he had met while studying for his Ph.D. at the Ohio State University. It was wonderful to interact with these researchers during my program, as it provided breadth to the issues art, museum, special, and professorial educators were facing at the time.
    My research interest in the development of West German Art Education after the second World War was identified during my master program and was narrowed to a specific movement under George’s tutelage. I was always amazed, as I wrote my dissertation, by the cogent and penetrating questions George asked me about my research. His dedication to clarity of expression was something he gifted me and I used as I later guided master students at my universities of employment.
    George and I met frequently at national art education and USSEA conferences after I graduated from Purdue. We always made time to sit with a glass of wine and discuss pertinent art education issues, his writings, and my continued interests in international art education issues.
    George was a dedicated teacher, warm and friendly individual, generous advisor, and truly interested in his students and their successes. I cherish my interactions with him and his dear wife, Priscilla, who was often at the monthly dinner parties held by the graduate students at Purdue. I miss his smile, the modest tilt of his head when someone acknowledged his accomplishments, and those inquiring eyes, eager to hear a person’s point of view on an issue. I could never have had a better and more significant role model, advisor and friend in my Ph.D program and career. He will be missed.

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    Raymond Dalton says

    A Tribute to Dr. H. George Geahigan

    It is my honor to write a tribute to Dr. H. George Geahigan. Dr. Geahigan was my professor, mentor, colleague, and chair of dissertation committee. He is known to have had a distinguished career as an art educator, administrator, and author. The legacy of his scholarship is, of course, laudable and highly praiseworthy. Better told and unfolded by the academy. What I want to do here is share a story of George and myself. In my 5 years (1984-89) at Purdue, I was the only Black American graduate student in Creative Arts. George became my graduate program advisor in my second year. When he learned my interest and focus was on African Americans in art and architecture, he did support me but cautioned the difficulty ahead without available specialists on campus. “We’ll get out of your way.” But he was close by my side every step of the way. George did see I had one of the most ardent data driven educational statisticians on my committee. George had me teaching two art activities courses per term. They were workshops and consumed much time. Thus, he was awed by the fact I also had a graduate assistantship with the Black Cultural Center. From our chats, George understood my need to validate myself; ergo, my work at the center. I recall being invited to dinner at George and Priscilla’s home. Broccoli is the vegetable we ate, and I still have it often. It is a food that reminds me of George and his fellowship. The shaping of the scope of my study included insight from George and the statistician. A national survey with the aim to investigate recruitment, retention and support services of African Americans in architecture education. When I concluded my defense of my dissertation and awaited the committee’s decision, pacing back and forth in the corridor, George finally appeared and congratulated me, adding, “You sure dance well”. With a perplexed brow curved on my face, as I wondered what’s the interpretation, he added something to the effect, “That’s not negative.” I told George about the offers for positions, one at Purdue, the other at Cornell. The latter offered far less salary. He suggested Cornell stating my salary would double in a couple of years. George was right! His support in me resonates continuously. Now, the dance is in the minority student population I studied and taught. They are the Art Education heads, Architecture chairs, professors, professionals, and even one of my own is president of American Institute of Architects (AIA). I think George would be quite proud. A Labor of Love.

    Raymond A. Dalton, PhD, ‘90

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    Karen Hodgin Cross says

    Dr. Geahigan was a wonderful art educator. He had a quiet, gentle presence with a quirky sense of humor. Dr. Geahigan was thoughtful and kind. He was a good listener and gave me support when I needed it. Dr. Geahigan cared about his students. Events in life can be challenging, and it is wonderful when you have someone who takes the time to help you through your struggles. I learned so much from him as an art teacher and as a person. I am so thankful to make this tribute to someone I admired so much.

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    Kathy Busch says

    George was a superb teacher. I had him for several graduate school courses in the Art Education department. I immediately felt his passion for art, not just as a spectator, but as an artist. By the time I was taking a class from him fora PhD, the readings got more dense. He made us wade through hundreds of pages, and then, we were to condense what we’d read into no more than a paragraph as our weekly homework. What an excellent exercise in getting to the “nugget” of what the author/s were saying. This ability to synthesize has stayed with me, and proved to be helpful throughout the years.
    Additionally, George was a very kind and gentle soul. He exhibited good taste in food, in art, and in his choice of a lifetime mate!

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Hubert George Geahigan, 79, died on June 20, 2021 after a long series of pancreatic cancer treatments failed.  He was a Professor at Purdue University in the School of Design, Art and Performance from 1977 to 2010.

After his retirement from Purdue, art making re-emerged as a full-time passion, which he tremendously enjoyed in his West Lafayette, IN studio.  He is survived by his wife Priscilla, brother Derrel, sister Sharon, and dozens of in-laws, cousins, nieces, nephews and friends who will miss him.