Mary Catherine Buchanan, 87, whose early work as a studio photographer laid the foundation for a life-long hobby of painting and drawing, died Wednesday at her home in Whitehouse following an extended illness.
The cause of death was lung cancer, said her daughter, Catherine Bayer.
“She was diagnosed five and a half years ago and her doctor said she’d only live six months,” Mrs. Bayer said.
Mrs. Buchanan’s artistic talents served her well when her husband, an engineer with Kaiser-Jeep Corp., was sent overseas to set up a Jeep plant in Tehran for five years.
“I was 10 years old when we were sent over,” Mrs. Bayer recalled. “It was quite a culture shock.”
Her mother was a homemaker while overseas, but continued her painting and drawing in the exotic locales.
“She did a lot of her artwork there” as well as sewing and entertaining friends, her daughter said.
By 1974, when Mr. Buchanan was recalled to the United States, the situation in Iran was becoming tense, Mrs. Bayer said.
“We had to be ready to evacuate in case something broke out,” she said.
In November, 1979, 52 Americans were taken hostage and held for 444 days by Islamic students.
The overseas assignment allowed the family to travel to Spain, Lebanon, Turkey, and Indonesia.
Despite the lure of exotic travel, Mrs. Bayer said she was glad to return to the United States where she could get her driver’s license.
Mrs. Buchanan was born on May 26, 1925, to Carl and Esther Hass in Richfeld Center, Ohio, where she attended St. Elizabeth grade school. She was a 1943 graduate of Burnham High School in Sylvania.
She worked as a studio photographer for the former LaSalle’s department store in downtown Toledo before marrying Marvin Buchanan in 1952. He died in 1998.
She never took art or music lessons, but was an accomplished piano and organ player as well as self-taught on the harmonica and accordion, her daughter said.
She did interior design, gardening, and floral arrangements.
She owned Silken Touch Flower Shop in Whitehouse before retiring and closing the shop in 1997, said her son, Patrick.
Her subjects in paintings were landscapes and portraits, although she also did paintings of animals on request from friends. She used her skills as a photographer to capture images of the animals, which she would use in her home studio to paint the portrait.
Mrs. Buchanan was generous with her talents and gave away many of her art works, some of which still hang in banks and homes in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, her daughter said.
“She was a very giving person,” Mrs. Bayer said.
She is survived by daughter Catherine Bayer; son Patrick Buchanan; brother Robert Hass; five grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
Brothers Carl, Charles, Joseph, and Francis preceded her in death.
A Mass of Resurrection will be said at 10 .m. today at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Assumption, Ohio.
Memorials are suggested to Erie West ProMedica Hospice.
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