We recently lost our good friend, professor, and artist Robert Paul Padgett. Paul’s sister Kathy had asked Lambros Tsuhlares, ceramic artist, and Adjunct Professor of Ceramics at West Liberty University, to create 35 small clay jars that will contain Paul’s ashes. It is the plan of Paul’s family that these jars of ashes be given to family members and friends, and that the ashes then be taken to various locations throughout the country that Paul loved.
Over the past few weeks, Lambros has been forming and glazing the jars. Yesterday Lambros did a raku firing of the jars, assisted by West Liberty Univerisity students Emma Romanowski, Josh Verhovic, Natalie Rees, Lexis Irvin, and Roy Jenree. Raku is a process by which pottery is fired at a relatively low temperature and then moved while hot to a closed container with combustible materials (as paper or sawdust) that ignite and cause a reaction creating colors and patterns in the pottery’s surface. (Raku means “enjoyment”, “comfort” or “ease” and is derived from Jurakudai, the name of a palace, in Kyoto, Japan, that was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537–1598), who was the leading warrior statesman of the time.) Here are the photos I took during the raku firing. In addition, I have included Paul’s obituary at the end of this post.
Robert Paul Padgett was born April 17, 1945 in Chicago, son of the late Ralph Emerson and Agnes Loeb Padgett.
Paul was a dedicated and loving father; grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend. His children and grandchildren were so important to him and he cherished visiting and traveling the country with them. Paul made many trips out west and down south in the pursuit of family unity. His family felt so appreciated and supported because of his effort to remain connected despite the physical distance. Paul interjected the spirit of discovery and joy into everything he did with his family.
Paul had the true heart of a teacher. He enriched the lives of his family and friends by sharing facts and trivia about art, graphic design, music, literature, history, and geography. Paul effortlessly used every moment as an opportunity to teach us all something inspiring about the world and impart to us his sense of wonder and curiosity.
Paul began teaching graphic design at West Liberty State University in 1972, retiring this year, only when his illness required him to do so. Paul was a favourite professor of many adoring students and contributed greatly both personally and professional to the art department family at West Liberty. Paul revelled in simplicity and structure in his own art and design and left us with an amazing body of work to appreciate for generations to come. His work was in many ways ahead of its time and will continue to give us the gift of discovery every time it is shown.
Paul was an avid guitar player, singer, and song writer, sharing his gift of music to those who were closest. Through music, Paul brought us an appreciation of love and life, and a deep understanding of the emotional truths that make life worth living. The personal songs he wrote for us were huge gifts that can never be removed from our minds and hearts. In addition to his own musical compositions, he was like a missionary, creating many converts to a musical appreciation of the greats like John Lennon, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and his number one favourite, Bob Dylan.
Paul was also a champion of human right and equality and generously gave his time and money to support causes such as Occupy Wall Street, Amnesty International and many others throughout the years. Social activism was an important value that he encouraged us to participate in, even at the end of his life.
Paul was a lover of life and fought long and hard to continue to be here with us. Paul did not lose to cancer, he conquered over fear. He showed us strength and courage and the ultimate selflessness. These and many other gifts will never be forgotten.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Douglas Padgett.
He is survived by three children, Robert Padgett of Los Angeles, Amanda Padgett of Spokane, and Michael Padgett of Wheeling; four grandchildren, Lily Evans, Asher Stewart, Sorrel Stewart, and Dylan Padgett; two sisters, Jeanette Farhangui of Tampa, and Katherine Padgett of Dahlonega; nephews, Bijan Farhangui and Matthew Jones; nieces, Shirine Fawaz, Christina Blymiller, Giselle Padgett, and Claire Rodriguez; and great-nieces and nephews, Alexander, Christopher, Megan, Alexandra.