Gallery Artists > Arlene Hooker Fay Biography :

Arlene Hooker Fay (1937 - 2001)  Artworks >>

Arlene Hooker Fay was born in Great Falls on Nov. 21, 1933, to William and Esther Hooker. She lived her first five years on a farm outside Highwood, before moving to Great Falls. Arlene contracted polio in August, 1948, just before her sophomore year and was confined to a wheelchair ever since. She graduated from Great Falls High School in 1951, taking classes on the first floor, as there was no elevator. She worked as a medical secretary for a year and for two years as a secretary with the child welfare division of the Cascade County Welfare office, while painting portraits evenings and weekends. Arlene married Thomas M. Fay on Sept. 17, 1955, while he was stationed in Montana serving in the Air Force. He was transferred to Sacramento for a year and a half after which they returned to Montana. After the birth of their second child, they moved to Bozeman where they lived for four years while Tom went to college. She took on various jobs (baby-sitting, telephone solicitation, sewing and alterations, and painting children's portraits.) Their third child was born in Cut Bank where they lived for two years while Tom taught high school in Browning. Then they moved into Browning for two years and to Conrad for three years, where she continued her painting, wrote a weekly article for the newspaper, and gave piano lessons. Tom taught for a year in Jordan and then worked for Consolidated Freightways in Great Falls from 1971 until his retirement in 1995. During that time Arlene's art career progressed and she has had many articles in the Tribune, other Montana newspapers and national art magazines. Unable to volunteer in the community, she donated much art to be sold for various charities including BASH (Building a Scholastic Heritage) for the College of Great Falls, the Gift of Life, Big Brothers and Sisters, St. Thomas Children's Home, the C.M. Russell Museum, the Ad Club for their scholarship program and food bank drive, and which helped get the Crimestoppers program started in Montana. Her paintings always made near top dollar at various auctions in the Northwest as did her quick draws. She won "Best of Show" awards at every major Northwest auction, including the C.M. Russell Auction which she exhibited in every year except the first year. A review in Southwest Art magazine of a book published on all the art auctions in the Northwest said it was obvious that A. Hooker Fay, Ace Powell and C.M. Russell were the artists most accepted into the Northwest auctions. Her humor was renowned, and she was sought after for roasts for charities and seminars. She also was famous for her "Hookerisms" (many times she was referred to as the Erma Bombeck of the art world). In recent years she had experienced pain and rapidly increasing weakness from post-polio syndrome. Arlene is survived by her husband Tom, daughter Lori of Great Falls, sons Tom Jr. of Missoula, William and daughter-in-law Mary Beth of Colorado Springs, one grandson, Cory of Great Falls, and two sisters, Connie Cordera of Gig Harbor, WA, and Caryl Ward of Great Falls. A brother, William, has died Source

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