Wife Lorene Spencer
2327 Broadway E, Seattle, WA 98102
Ralph Edward Spencer (June 8, 1914 - 1973) was an American artist. Lorene and Ralph Spencer owned and operated the Spencer Potter Studio in South Seattle in the Mid-twentieth century producing a variety of stoneware bowls, vases, plates, mugs, etc. Lorene also produced "painted" ceramic tiles that often used impressions from a modified printing block. The Pottery was known for its high quality local sourced clays and the glazes mixed from Washington State minerals gathered by Ralph Spencer. Although Lorene and Ralph Spencer were both gay, they maintained their marriage until Ralph's death in 1973. Afterward, Lorene and her life partner, Ruth Henry, had a close friendship with Bud McBride and Richard Scheneider, who sold Lorene's work along with their own Crow Valley pottery, as well as work by other talented artists, until their retirement in 1995.
Born in Spirit Lake, Idaho, to George Forrest Spencer and Emma Anna Bailey. Lorene Rhua Flower met Ralph E. Spencer while he was serving in the Coast Guard at Astoria, Oregon, and they soon married. Ralph lived in Spirit Lake, Idaho, until 1935, when he moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington. He studied chemical engineering at the UW until he enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1942, serving as a motor machinist's mate in Depoe Bay, Oregon. In her later years, Lorene explained that both she and Ralph were aware of their homosexual orientations but, like many gay people of their generation, they had innocently thought that if they married and had children, these feelings would resolve and change to heterosexual orientation, which, naturally, did not happen. However, they decided not to act on their same-sex attractions and remained a couple. After their marriage, Ralph and Lorene worked in a family business running a fishing resort on the Umpqua River in Oregon, where they built boats and manufactured docks. After a few years, in 1948, they sold their share of the business and moved to Newberg, Oregon, where they made their first ceramic works. After some initial success, they started marketing their work through the Meier & Frank department store in Portland. Newberg's largely conservative political leanings became too stressful and so the family headed for Seattle in 1951, there establishing the Spencer Pottery business. By 1955, Spencer Pottery was located in the Seattle suburb of Tukwila. The Spencers were active members of the Clay Club, founded in 1948 in Seattle. Other Clay Club members included Virginia Weisel and architect Robert Shields.
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