Elizabeth “Libby” Avery Berry

Elizabeth “Libby” Avery Berry

2/18/1943 – 11/8/2016

Surrounded by family members, one always-present seagull, some other gulls, a kingfisher, heron, sea lion, and gentle waves lapping at the beach, Libby left us on Election Day morning, overtaken swiftly by a very aggressive cancer. Although one might say she “passed away peacefully,” we know she was not ready to go, as there was much she still wished to accomplish. Paintings sitting unfinished on her easel, and a still-unattained Aikido goal attest to her being snatched from a full life prematurely.

Born and raised in Hamden, Connecticut, Libby attended Hamden High School and Marietta College, in Ohio, where she earned her BA in art and English. It was there she met her husband to be, Jim Berry, who followed her out to Lanai, Hawaii, where Libby worked at her first job as a teacher. They were married there. Via Philadelphia and Los Angeles, she and her family, now including three children, two dogs and a cat, arrived on Whidbey Island, Wash., in 1978, and that has been their home ever since. Jim pre-deceased her in 1997. She is survived by her children Jeffrey Berry, Lynda Kenworthy (husband Shawn), and Bonnie Christensen (husband Hans), as well as six grandchildren (Renee, Travis, Nicole, Michael, Kevin and Zac), two step-grandchildren (Jake and Justin), five great-grandchildren and sister Anne Avery of Seattle.

Libby’s professional life was oil painting. While in Los Angeles she self-schooled in the deep color-layering techniques of the Renaissance masters and she has perfected that technique over many years. She leaves a legacy of dozens of rich paintings, from wildlife portraits to local island scenes, many in the homes of collectors, but a number in her own collection as well. Through her school, the “New Renaissance Academy,” she leaves a legacy of over 100 students to whom she has passed on her knowledge, many of whom have become successful artists. Students often return to Libby for further workshops, and she taught the last one only two weeks before her death.

After surviving a bout with breast cancer in 1997, Libby took up the Japanese martial art of Aikido. She was a focused and steady student, earning her Black Belt, and going on to higher levels of sword work and more. She helped her sensei with a class for children in Langley as recently as October, and was working on the next level of Aikido when she departed.

Libby was a free spirit who loved life, “garage sailing,” clamming, cooking, and creating a warm and cozy home with found objects and delicious cooking aromas, often filled with her large and devoted family and many friends. Save some clam linguini for us, Libby, we love you and will miss you.

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