Crafting the lives of Guy & Irene Buzzard
EIU Historical Administration Graduate Program's 2014 Exhibit
Robert Guy Buzzard and Alice Irene Couchman began as high school sweethearts in Sumner, Illinois. Irene prepared for married life by creating household objects with her mother, like many of her peers. In the meantime, Guy developed his career by earning his doctoral degree in Geography and beginning to teach. After marrying in 1920, they continued to establish a solid future for their family prior to Guy’s acceptance as President at Eastern Illinois State Teacher’s College.
The Buzzards spent over twenty years in Charleston, becoming involved in the community and with the University, while raising their four sons John, Henry, Robert, and Charles. During this time Guy developed an extended correspondence with family members, circulating a newsletter that he called the “Buzzard Beacon.” As their children grew up and left home, Guy and Irene both became interested in new craft techniques, such as huck embroidery and eventually weaving.
Guy retired from Eastern in 1956, and the Buzzards eventually moved to Tempe, Arizona, where both continued to develop as crafters. Guy’s approach to crafting seemed to mirror his professional life: he studied weaving in an academic environment and read about its history and culture. In contrast, Irene’s crafting skills were learned at home, with her mother and other women in her community.