Trudy Erwin died peacefully in her home with both her daughters at her side on Feb. 21, 2013, after a brief battle with leukemia and just nine days before her 90th birthday.
Trudy was born in South Dakota on March 2, 1923 to Clinton and Julia Crandall and was one of three kids. In 1933 they moved the family to Seattle. During WWII she enlisted as one of the first women to join the armed services under the U.S. Navy Reserve and served as an Aviation Machinist’s Mate in Pasco, Wash. and Glenview, Ill. After the war, Trudy and her mother Julia visited Orcas Island and immediately fell in love with the island. In 1947 Trudy married her sweetheart, Bob Petris, and honeymooned on Orcas Island. Together they had two daughters, Dianna and Sydney. Trudy was an especially involved mother, serving as her daughters’ Girl Scout leader, making their clothes, furniture, doll houses, etc.
In 1953 Trudy’s mother bought Orcas Island Pottery and thus began the family’s lifelong attachment to West Beach and Orcas Island. Shortly thereafter Trudy began bringing her daughters to the island every summer, each time borrowing a different farm animal from a local farm for the girls to play with all summer. In 1965 they moved to California, where Trudy began teaching pottery and opened The Mug Shop.
Trudy met her second husband, Wally Erwin, while they were both out walking their poodles in Berkeley. In 1976 Trudy and Wally opened the Right Place Pottery on Orcas Island and several years later moved there permanently and “retired” to run the Right Place full time, which Trudy ran up until two months before her death. Trudy taught thousands of adults and children to make pottery both in Berkeley and Orcas Island.
At the age of 50 Trudy fulfilled her lifelong dream of learning to fly an airplane and got her pilot’s licence. She flew her own plane until she was 82 when she had to admit her eyesight was beginning to fail.
Trudy was a potter of nearly 60 years, a photographer, a puppeteer, a pilot, an intricate cut-paper artist, and a talented musician, who loved to play all sorts of instruments. She loved to play music and sing with her friends and the senior center. She was a creative, loving and supportive mother, grandmother and friend.
She was well known in the community for her vibrancy and generosity. If you were at a social gathering with her you could be sure she would disappear for a moment and come back playing the accordion or ukulele and singing for everyone. She was always happy to drop everything to fly someone off-island if they were in need, even if they were a complete stranger.
Trudy is survived by her daughters: Sydney Exton and Dianna Down, son-in-law Bob Down; grandkids Aaron Hardy and his wife Kris, Matt Haeuser, Kimberly Hardy, Cody Down and Noah Down; great-grandchildren Tatum, Finn and Lily Hardy and Callum and Liam Down, and many other dear relatives and close friends.
Her life and her bold, dynamic, and creative spirit were an inspiration to all who knew and loved her and she will be deeply missed.