Gabrielle Liese

Gabrielle Liese died June 14, 2011. She was born on July 28, 1914, to Dr. and Mrs. William Dennison Morgan (Gabriella Sengastak) of Hartford, Conn.


She graduated from the Spence School in New York City in 1933. This period of financial depression and pre-WWII was a time of ferment and frenetic energy in all aspects of the arts. Gabrielle, quite unexpectedly, found herself in the professional theatre playing "part of the scenery," as she called it, on Broadway and on countrywide tours with such prominent theatre artists of the time as Ethel Barrimore, Eve Le Gallienne, Katharine Cornell, Helen Hayes, Maurice Evans, Sir Ralph Richardson, Brian Aherne, Tyrone Power, Max Reinhardt, Norman Bel Geddes and many others.


In July 1940, she married Theodore William Liese of Danville, Ill., in New York City. Ted was a member of Squadron A 101st Cavalry National Guard, New York City, which in January of 1941, prior to WWII, was ordered to Ft. Devens, Mass. with their horses. Gabrielle and Ted rented a house in Groton, Mass., close to Ft. Devens. Their son, Theodore Burton Morgan Liese, was born in September 1941 and in January 1942, after Pearl Harbor, Ted's commission in the U.S. Army Reserve was reactivated and they remained at Ft. Devens until June 1942, when Ted was sent to England. Gabrielle did not see him again for three years.


Their daughter, Gabrielle Brinley Liese, was born March 17, 1943, while Ted was fighting the Battle of Kasserine Pass in Tunisia. Ted went on to be in the African-Sicilian and Italian campaigns while Gabrielle moved to Darien, Conn.   Gabrielle took courses in architectural drawing and landscape architecture, and was an active member in the Red Cross motor corps, driving service mothers to maternity hospitals and wounded veterans to their service appointments, and assisting the emergency staff at the Norwalk Hospital, and she kept reminding her children that they had a father.


After Ted's five-year service in the Army, the war was over and life in the eastern seaboard seemed to return to its placid outlook as if nothing had happened.


They made a major decision to move to the Southwest where Gabrielle's love of New Mexico and Ted's love of horses could be indulged. In 1949, they bought a cattle ranch and moved permanently to the Prescott area of Arizona where the schools, at that time, ranked 11th in the nation, according to the New York Times.


Ted and Gabrielle soon became involved in Prescott and state activities, and Gabrielle opened her design studio, moving several times, landing on Whiskey Row, where she maintained it from 1971 to 1999. In the early 1970, she became interested in the historical uses of beads, which included aspects of anthropology, archeology, sociology, religions and world trade.


After the death of Gabrielle's mother, Ted and Gabrielle started traveling abroad for a few weeks each year, combining their interests of archeology and horses.


Gabrielle founded the Bead Museum and the Gabrielle Liese Research Library in Prescott in 1986. The museum featured beads from around the world to show how they pertained to various cultures and civilizations. The purpose of the Bead Museum was to "collect and preserve, identify, document and display beads and ornaments used in personal adornment from ancient ethnic and contemporary cultures, covering all periods of history." Its goals were to "educate the public, promote and publish research in these areas and to act as a permanent repository for beads and ornaments and related books and publications."


In 1999, The Bead Museum moved to Glendale, Ariz., where it remained until 2011, at which time it was incorporated with the Mingei International Museum in San Diego and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.  In 2003, Gabrielle was awarded the Governor's Arts Award Individual Category through the Arizona Commission on the Arts.




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