Grand Old Bear

One of my old art teachers, and a family friend, past away earlier this week. She was a true bohemian – colorful, wise and always making art. She taught art at my middle school I think for well over a decade. She was also an amazing artist in her own right with work stretching across many media. I always admired Fran Dolbeare because she was so different and if a student really cared about the art, she would take all the time in the world to teach them. She was also a good friend of my mom and dad’s as well. When I graduated college she gave me a collage that I still haven’t had framed yet – I thought that was so cool – to have somebody make a piece of art and give it to you to mark an occasion.

I think mom was substitute teacher for her or something because she called the house many years ago and I think my dad answered the phone (it was late, we were all asleep). Dad took the message and hung up.

Mom: Who was that?
Dan: The Grand Old Bear… ?
Mom: The Grand Old Bear… Grand Old… oh! Fran Dolbeare?
Dan: Aha!

And so that is how she got our nickname of the Grand Old Bear. Though I’d say she was much more owlish with a face that defied snotty eighth graders with wisdom of the eons.

A similar story is how when I was a kid we’d say ‘gourdhead’ instead of ‘go ahead’ after one of us slurred the words together.

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