In Memory

Margaret Jane De Vore (Masters) - Class Of 1929

Margaret 'Maggie' Jane DeVore Masters, 98, died at her residence in Hominy Valley Retirement Center in Candler, North Carolina on July 8, 2010, after a long illness.

Maggie was born in Des Moines, Iowa on July 1, 1912 to Emerson DeVore and Mary Ungles.  After a few years the family moved west to Oregon and then on to Pasadena, California.  Maggie did her primary schooling in South Pasadena and then attended Pasadena City College.

In 1934 Maggie married Ralph Vaniman and gave birth to her only child, Michel 'Mike' Vaniman in 1934.  In 1940, she left Ralph and moved to northern California where she worked at the Palo Alto Community Theater as secretary to the director.  In 1951 she went to work for Stanford Research Institute in the public relations department.  While employed there, she met the love of her life, Meredith 'Gus' Masters, retired US Army Captain at a Veterans Administration dance.  During the courtship, they attended an adult education course in pottery, where one night the instructor gave a demonstration of enameling metal, and it was this demo that won in them a lifetime love of the craft.  Enameling was quick, portable, and gorgeous.

Married in 1953, the couple set up a home and studio south of Brevard in 1955.  They became members of the Southern Highlands Handcraft Guild.  In addition to attending many Guild fairs and furnishing enamelled ware to Guild shops, she and Gus and a group of local crafters founded the "Eight Crafters Shop" south of Brevard.  Beginning in 1960, she directed many Brevard Little Theater plays through 1972.  She also taught two enamelling workshops per year at John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, spanning between 1961 and 1971.  In 1955, 1964, and 1969, she won first-place awards for jewelry given by the National League of American Pen Women.  A hand-raised enamelled bowl, one of 27 pieces by North Carolina artists, was shown at the Smithsonian Institute in 1962.

Maggie and Gus were appointed co-directors of John C. Campbell Folk School in 1974.  They initiated the annual fall festival, revived the blacksmith shop, built the pottery studio, remodeled the old carpenter shop into the new carving studio, and enlarged the craft shop at Keith House during a sojourn that lasted until 1976 when they retired from the directorship in order to pursue their crafting and teaching full time.  They moved into their new home, set up their shop and lived and worked for the next 25 years.  In their spare time they established the Brasstown Players, who performed many theatricals, directed by Maggie, on the stage at Keith House.  In 1984, Maggie and Gus were made life members of the Southern Highlands Handicraft Guild.  Production of the Masters Enamels ceased in early 1998.

Due to Gus' increasing heart problems and Maggie's failing energy, they moved to Asheville Manor in south Asheville in August 2000.  After a brief illness, Gus died in 2001.  Life without Gus was a daunting factor for Maggie.  She was an artist, craftsman, poet, actress, director, and all around talent but grief and depression blunted all attempts to renew her pursuit of living.  That and the onset of senile dementia and Alzheimer's disease brought about her demise.  She was very tired.

Maggie is survived by her son, Mike Vaniman of Asheville; her granddaughter, Gay Vaniman and husband David Poor of Pisgah Forest; and a stepson, Roedel Masters of Novato, California.

The Cherokee Scout, July 22, 2010