David asked me to share this with you all.
Orville Keith Chatt spent his life teaching us that eyes are for more than navigation.
He was born on December 12,1924 in Tekamah, Nebraska. His family owned the stockyards and also farmed. At age 19 he joined the air force. He was stationed in the Philippines during World War II where he was Commander of a B24 bomber. As the war ended, the GI bill and his creative interests led him to Chicago where he pursued his Batchelor of Fine Arts degree at the Chicago Art Institute. It was there that he met Patricia Horner. They were married on January 14, 1951 and soon thereafter moved to Eugene, Oregon where they began a family and fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. In 1956 family ties and opportunity drew them back to the Midwest. They moved to Des Moines, Iowa where Orville taught at North High and earned a Master of Fine Arts from Drake University. He then took a job at Iowa State University and moved the family to Ames, but inclement weather and memories of Eugene made him keep an eye out for an opportunity to return to the Northwest. In 1964 Orville was offered a job as Crafts Coordinator at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Washington. They loaded their six children, a white German Shepard, a parakeet, a gold fish and all of their possessions into an old school bus they named Gigi and headed west.
Orville taught at the College for the next 25 years, eventually becoming Head of the Art Department. He was a regular in the early years of the Anacortes Arts and Crafts Fair. In 1971 he published a book called Design is Where You Find It, in which he juxtaposed his jewelry designs with photos of nature or common objects and encouraged readers to find inspiration in the ordinary. Orville shared his love of art and design with countless students over the years and will be remembered as one who inspired and encouraged his community to appreciate art and to find and create beauty.
He was recently honored with an Award of Excellence for jewelry arts and education by the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner, WA and was made an honorary lifetime member of Northwest Designer Craftsmen.
Saturday mornings, as often as not, found Orville perusing the ads and mapping out garage sale strategies. The homes of his friends and family are filled with the fruits of these labors.
Orville was also known for his love of animals, especially the countless “used” dogs he rescued and showered with affection.
He spent his last days cracking jokes and teasing his caregivers. Orville died on the morning of July 25, 2007.
He is survived by his children: Beth McGurran, Julie Erickson, Mark, Scott and David Chatt. They and their spouses are grateful for the kindness, patience and humor that he brought to their lives. He is also survived by a brother, Bob Chatt of Tekamah, NE, a sister, Shirley Oleson of Crete, NE, 11 grandchildren, five great grandchildren and many dear friends. He was preceded in death by his wife and youngest son Jay.
The family wishes to thank his friends and especially the students who followed him after his retirement to his studio where they have been part of the Monday/Wednesday group ever since. The family requests no flowers but encourages memorials in his name to Hospice, Museum of Northwest Art, the Humane Society or a charity of your choice.
An Ice Cream Social will be held in his honor Saturday August 11th, 3 to 5pm at the family home at 409 Reed St. in Sedro-Woolley. All friends, colleagues and former students are invited.