Sometimes we hear from alum who have a bit more to share than can fit into a newsletter blurb, hence a blog post! Jeanne reached out to inquire about alumni reunions (which are in the works around NOCCA’s 50th anniversary in the 2023-2024 school year, or earlier as safety guidelines allow) and ended up sharing a slice of her life, with some great motivation. Read on!
I was Jeannie Long at NOCCA. I attended the Visual Arts program under Frank & Jean Gross. I’m 60 this year. I live with my husband David on the Pacific Ocean in Southwest corner of Washington. My kids are 40, 36, and 31. I will soon retire from Microsoft. I don’t practice my art much but last year National Cemetery #1 dedicated a US Navy Veterans Memorial placement I designed. I searched 10 years to find a WWII US Navy Ship Anchor used in the sculpture.
When I left NOCCA I was 17 and my life veered quickly in another direction. Pregnant and married within a year, my imagined future, making it big in art and living in New York, promptly vanished. Life demands your full attention. I raised 3 kids on a farm in Kansas. I never pursued further education or my art as a career, but all along the wandering way of my sometimes catastrophically difficult life, my NOCCA experience and education helped and sustained me. I learned about computers on the farm. We lived too far away from tech help, so I read a lot and took things apart to figure it out. Once the kids were grown, I sold everything and started a tech company to connect far remote people on low bandwidth connections, to a server based software on broadband, giving the remote user a faster experience. This was the beginning of secure remote computing. We grew fast. I used my training from NOCCA to make own logos, websites, and printed collateral to save money when growing the business. We looked bigger and more successful as a result. I was ‘courteously aggressive,’ a phrase Frank Gross used regularly with us at NOCCA. My artistic talent and creativity, coupled with good people and hard work, made that little company cast a long enough shadow in the Tech Industry to win customers, awards, and acquisition. It also landed me a job as a Director at Microsoft. I got to here because of my art, my creativity, and my courteously aggressive pursuit of happiness and success.
So, looking back 44 years to my days at NOCCA, my advice to all who followed us out of NOCCA is even if your life takes unexpected turns, if you make mistakes, if you don’t pursue your art as a career, if you must break and start over, you will always have your talent. You can always learn more. You can always start over. You can always find a way. There is love and joy, success, and happiness ahead of you. You deserve it. Keep going. You can find it.
You haven’t changed a bit since I last remember you when we were making masks and yours looked to real so they made you paint it. Natalie Nussbaum would be proud!
So glad to see a familiar face. I was in the class just ahead of you. And it would be great to reminisce about Frank and Jean Gross stories. Love your story as I also ended up living on a farm and understand trying to run a business with low band width. Thanks you for sharing!
Kathleen (Alexander) Oliver
Class of 1978
Jimbo! I am just seeing this. Thanks, buddy. You made me smile today. Hope you and yours are well and safe.
Kathy! We worked on the big fiber curtain together. Hope you are well.