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Bead Society Hall of Fame
The first group. They have left us, but they have left much behind.
- Libby Gregory -- Libby was a perpetual hippie, and one with a mission.
Humanist and Women's Rights activist, she translated her love of beads into a small corporation dedicated to helping people understand their heritage and to support artists. She named her store in Columbus, Ohio, Byzantium, after the ancient city in Turkey, where her brother was an archaeologist. It was, and still is, home to the Bead Society of Central Ohio. The bead store expanded, adding a coffee shop and a paper store. She provided work for 30 people as employees and artists. They all loved her.
Libby died under sad but typical circumstances. In February 1991 as her plane was maneuvering at Los Angles International Airport, it collided with a parked plane and was set afire. She was near the door, but did not leave, preferring to help others out first. Someone pushed her aside and she hit her head and was knocked unconscious. Shelly Stambaugh, working with Libby on the Hopewell Project at Byzantium, also perished. Ministers of four religions officiated at Libby's funeral.
- Elizabeth Jane Harris -- (1914-1995) -- Although not a charter member of the first Bead Society (Los Angeles), Elizabeth was long a mainstay. She took on the task of the library and was a major contributor to the newsletter. She was involved in many other bead institutions as well. She was a co-founder and the first secretary-treasurer of the Society of Bead Researchers. She was an early supporter of Ornament and the Bead Museum, editing the latter's newsletter. She wrote many articles and three books.
There was a tremendous outpouring of grief at her death. The many personal notes published in bead newsletters emphasized her generosity above all. She was most open with literature, ideas and beads to novices and professionals alike. Her contacts were worldwide and she was a major contributor to the elevated profile beads have today.
- Michael Roy Heide -- (1944-1993) -- Michael was not merely a founding member of the Northwest Bead Society, he was also responsible for many people becoming interested in beads and was a major bead importer. He had become fascinated with African art and trade beads while in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone. His love of sculpture led to the first exhibit of African art in Seattle. He imported trade beads to build his collection and finance his other activities. He once estimated that he had imported 100,000 strands.
Michael's life was one of service and of science. He discovered a new tobacco virus strain at the age of seventeen. He was always proud of his students in Sierra Leone, two of whom came to study in the US. He became a doctor after returning from Africa because he could help people. In his last years he was elected to the board of the Seattle AIDS Support Group and served on the State Omnibus Committee. In his eulogy for Michael, Bruce Boyd said that Michael was more proud of his AIDS work than anything else because it was where he could make the most difference.
Once again, I have selected the first three inductees.
They are the people to whom I dedicated Beads of the World.
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