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Elaine Slusher

Elaine Slusher

Elaine Slusher

On August 7, 2017, while sitting in the afternoon sun in her garden in Placitas, in view of the Sandia Mountains, Elaine Slusher unexpectedly but peacefully died.

Elaine was born on August 24, 1927, in Owosso, Michigan, to Myrtle and Orlando Gale Dickinson. She was the middle of three daughters, and grew up and attended high school in Owosso.

Elaine is survived by her three children, Stephen Slusher and his husband, Jon Carl Lewis, of Trenton, New Jersey; Katherine Slusher and her husband, Jesús Carles de Villalonga of Barcelona, Spain; and Michael Slusher and his wife, Erika, of Placitas. Elaine has one granddaughter, Ella, the daughter of Michael and Erika. Elaine is also survived by one sister, Joyce Ackerman of Monroe, Michigan.

After high school, Elaine attended art school in Detroit, and after some experience modeling for clothing advertisements in Detroit, moved to New York City. She was an early client of the Ford Modeling Agency and worked closely with Eileen and Jerry Ford in developing her modeling career. She appeared in all the leading fashion magazines and was on the cover of Mademoiselle numerous times.

In 1949, while on vacation in New Mexico, she discovered the village of Placitas and immediately fell in love. She bought a four-room adobe house in the village, but returned to New York to pursue her modeling career. In early 1952, she moved with her husband Arnold Slusher back to New Mexico In 1953, they, with their son Stephen who was less than one year old, moved to the house she had purchased in Placitas.

Elaine was instrumental in convincing the local power utility to extend electricity to Placitas, which was installed about a year after moving to Placitas. At that time, Placitas was a small, rural village, with only a two-lane road to either Albuquerque or Santa Fe. In Placitas, she helped found the first community library. She was also active in public service and was vice president of the League of Women Voters of New Mexico, with extensive work on statewide school funding formulas.

Watercolor painting was a lifelong passion of Elaine’s. She was a signature member of the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies, and exhibited her paintings in numerous juried shows and                 galleries. She also enjoyed playing the fiddle and folk dancing. She designed and made many of her own clothes.

Elaine lived in Placitas through the early 1980s, when she moved to Albuquerque. In 1997, at age seventy, she designed and had a small house built in the village of Placitas, where she lived until her death. She remained active in community activities and enjoyed teaching her painting class at the Placitas Community Center. A few days before she died, she helped hang a show of her students’ work at the Placitas Community Library.

The family will hold a remembrance gathering in Placitas later this year.

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