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Epilogue | Beatrice Price Wise

For artist, everything was a potential subject

Beatrice Price Wise had one eye, but more vision than most around her.

Anything could be a subject for her paintings, whether it be a landscape, a monument or an unusual-looking cow along her drive.

There were few limits to her art. She painted abstracts, miniatures, portraits and still lifes. She used watercolors, charcoal, oils, pencil.

She saw things and tried to capture them.

An accident when she was 9 injured her left eye. The child could see shades of black, but in the early 1900s doctors could not restore her sight.

Despite it, she was a talented artist. But when the Depression hit, she went to work to support her family.

Beatrice put down her drawing pencils. She would not pick them up again for the next 30 years.

• • •

The Depression led her and her husband from Tennessee to Akron, Ohio, where they opened a general store. It was unbearable to watch customers buying cat and dog food, which Beatrice knew would feed their families, not pets. She gave them credit to buy food, not expecting to be paid back.

On her way to work every morning, she saw signs for "Florida Avenue" and dreamed of going back to the state whose warmth and palms she fell in love with during camping trips with her family in an era before roadside motels.

"She couldn't wait to get out of the ice and snow to move down here," said her daughter, Betty Sue Degenhart, 64, of Clearwater.

When the war ended, her wish was granted. The family moved to Seminole County, where she became the first woman to earn a real estate license in 1947.

• • •

When she was 50, her husband died. With him gone and her children grown, she tried painting again. She started with a still life to see if she still had it. From that moment, art took hold in her life again. She painted dozens, if not hundreds, of paintings.

She helped start the Miniature Art Society of Florida. At 83, she traveled to England for the creation of the World Federation of Miniaturists.

For her fans, she was often the most fascinating subject. Artists wanted to paint her at all stages of her life. One requested a photograph of her as a child in front of her playhouse; another liked the picture of her at age 16, posing in a gown before a dance.

Into her 70s, she was a sought-after model.

"She just inspired them," Degenhart said.

She died July 6.

>>Biography

Beatrice Price Wise

Born: Sept. 6, 1912

Died: July 6, 2008

Survivors: Daughter Betty Sue Degenhart of Clearwater; son-in-law Austin Degenhart; daughter-in-law Kris Ann Huffman of DeLand.

For artist, everything was a potential subject 07/13/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 14, 2008 7:45am]
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