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Marilyn LaGrone-Amaral Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

10 November 2014

Marilyn LaGrone-Amaral titled her book of paintings, poems and prose Music at the Easel because she remembered painting with her father, who always painted to music.

Her father, Roy LaGrone, was one of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. An accomplished painter who studied in Italy after the war, he donated his portraits of all the Airmen to the Pentagon.

We met Marilyn in 2004. You didn't have to know her long before you became friends for life. We spent a weekend together in which the punch line of every joke was "Tom Hanks." Don't ask why.

We learned of her death just yesterday. So we opened her book once again to read over a passage we've never forgotten:

Even as a child, I was allowed to use my father's brushes. He trusted me as long as I respected them as very valuable tools of his trade ... beautiful sable-hair brushes that were rather expensive. There were always two cans of turpentine for cleaning oil paint brushes, and three pots of water to keep the brushes clean when using inks or acrylics. One pot for black pigments, one for white, and one for rinsing. These pots were changed often, so no accumulated paint sludge could contaminate or damage the brushes. All the brushes were cleaned and dried when you finished working. He would tell me, "If you take care of your brushes, Miss M," his nickname for me, "they will always do what you want and last a lifetime," and over the years it has proven true. I still have many of his fine old brushes today, still with the masking tape he would wrap around the bodies of the brushes for balance, weight, and grip.

We can imagine those brushes now, waiting for her sure hand to guide them over the emptiness toward some vision only she could see. They lasted a lifetime, even two, but how we wish they weren't yet through.


I am heartbroken to learn of Marilyn's death. We attended Washington Irving High School at the same time and shared Art and English classes. I always remembered her and today, coincidentally, when I found her information online, I sent her a message on a listed Facebook page, only to read immediately afterward of her death. I am shocked and disappointed. She was a joyfull, striking, talented girl and, after all these years, I can't believe I missed her by just a few days. My sincerest condolences go out to her family.

-- Hedda Acosta

Thanks for writing, Hedda. It came as a surprise even to my sister-in-law, who had talked to her just the day before and was quite close to her. We were lucky to have known her. -- Mike

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