Verlane Desgrange Remembrances (ed.
Note: An Excerpt from the Cody Enterprise newspaper found on-line at: http://www.codyenterprise.com/articles/ 2007/12/05/obituaries/obit017-1953.txt) Verlane Desgrange, 58, a nationally acclaimed saddle maker and leather worker, died Dec. 2, 2007, at West Park Hospital from complications of cancer.
A longtime resident of Cody, she came to Wyoming from Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1973 at age 24.
She graduated with a B.A.
In constructive design from Florida State University where she earned scholarships from the National Teachers’ Association and Daughters of the American Revolution.
In Wyoming she apprenticed to master Western saddle maker Cliff Ketchum of Ralston and former U.S.
Cavalry saddler Hamp Brand, also of Ralston.
In 1986 her growing interest in English equestrian equipment and dressage led her to Portland, Ore., where she continued her studies with Hans Biglazar.
Verlane’s interest in horses, leather work, saddles and all things equestrian started at an early age and shaped the path her career and interests would follow throughout her life.
She loved Cody Country and enjoyed riding her tough little Arab gelding, Goblin, in the mountains and open country behind her home on the South Fork, as well as in the dressage ring.
She ran the South Fork Saddle Shop, building saddles and making bridles, chaps, purses and all manner of tack for local residents and clients throughout the country.
An exceptionally creative craftsperson, she won many awards for her work including the prestigious Al Stohlman Award for Lifetime Achievement in Leather Craft (2006), for which she received additional recognition from Sen.
Mike Enzi and the Wyoming Arts Council.
WAC also nominated her this spring for the Ford Foundation’s USA Artists Award.
Verlane presented at many folk art festivals throughout Wyoming.
Annie Hatch, director of WAC’s Traditional Arts Program, was working with Sharon Kahin and other Wyoming folklorists to nominate her for a National Heritage Award through the National Endowment for the Arts’ Folk and Traditional Arts Program.
Verlane took first place in the International Leathercraft Guild’s Leather Carving Contest in 2007 and received local recognition as Best Artist in Leather at the Western Design Conference in 1998 for her creative interpretation of a 1918 lady’s astride saddle which toured the state for the third Wyoming Biennial.
Creating fresh interpretations of historical saddles and bridles was one of her passions as was her free-form floral leather carving which took the art of decorative leather design to a new level of artistry.
Her work was featured in many prominent publications such as Southwest Art, Persimmon Hill, Western Horseman, Leather Crafters and Saddlers Journal, and the Crafts Report, as well as books such as Crafts in America (1992), Saddles, Bits and Spurs (1992) and Saddle Making in Wyoming (1993).
In addition to work in saddlery and leather craft, Verlane had a significant career in teaching, starting with evening classes at Northwest College and culminating at Spokane Falls Community College in Washington where she resurrected the last formal school of saddle making in the country.
A prolific writer of saddle making “how to” books for her students and other professionals, Verlane published numerous booklets on saddle making, leather work, leather care, saddle fitting and the ergonomics of accommodating rider to horse.
Because of her extensive experience, Verlane was asked to serve as an expert witness in several court cases involving leather quality and equipment safety.
She gave many saddle fitting clinics, workshops and seminars locally and as far away as California.
A backbone of the Cody equestrian community, Verlane generously donated her time and expertise to the Heart Mountain Dressage Club, of which she was a founding member, and to Pony and 4-H clubs.
At the time of her death she was working with 4-H groups in Spokane to develop leather working programs for middle and high school students.
She was a founding member of the Northern Division of the Wyoming Arabian Horse Association and participated in the Pony Express ride from Cody to Livingston, Mont., to celebrate the opening of the new Depot Museum there.
She will be greatly missed by her family and friends.
Verlane is survived by her mother Vera Garis, sister Verlona Rogers and nephew Casey Rogers of Port Orange, Fla.
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m.
Dec. 12 in Christ Church Episcopal.
A carry-in lunch will follow.
In honor of her love of all animals, donations in Verlane’s memory are welcome at the Humane Society of Park County. ————————————————— Verlane’s obituary suggests donations to her local Humane Society.
Here’s the info: Humane Society of Park County PO Box 203 5537 Greybull Highway Cody WY 82414 USA Phone: (307) 587-5110 Website: http://www.wagsandwhiskers.org/ index.htm
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