Lalique Glassware – Round Bowl Mesanges by Lalique 10″ Diameter

Collection of Gwen McKenzie of McCook Nebraska

Product #G978

Round Glass Bowl Mesanges by Lalique – This beautiful bowl is a work of art with high relief birds forming the top rim. Bowl is in good condition and is signed on the underside Lalique France. Measures 10″ diameter and 4″ height.  This bowl was purchased locally originally passed down in the family of Gwen McKenzie of McCook she was the dean @ Mccook College.  She bought this bowl in France when traveling in the 60’s. I have added a copy of an interesting newspaper article that I found that we have included below.


The unforgettable Gwen McKenzie

Monday, February 21, 2005

Walt Sehnert

Gwendolyn Jorgenson grew up in Sidney, the daughter of a banker/real estate agent.

She studied at Stephens College and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Master of Arts degree in mathematics. Even with an advanced degree she found it difficult to get a good teaching job in the Depression ’30s. She tried at a series of jobs — (trying) to collect overdue grocery bills, interviewing for the Gallup Poll, making needlepoint and hooked rugs, and finally teaching a rural school for $90/ month. After two and a half years she landed a job teaching mathematics in the Sidney High School.

When World War II broke out Gwen enlisted in the Navy. The Navy was asking for people with knowledge in mathematics and science — so they sent her to meteorology school and for the duration of the war she did weather forecasting and weather clearance for flights out of Philadelphia.

After the war she became a mathematics instructor at Norfolk Junior College, and the resident expert on G.I. affairs. After a year she became registrar for the college. The college cean spent a good deal of time on the road recruiting for the school, leaving Gwen in charge for weeks at a time, which suited Gwen just fine. “The Dean would rather make speeches than run the college, and I liked being the boss!”

In 1950 Gwen Jorgenson faced a crossroads in her life- — literally. She had been offered a job with the Prudential Insurance Co. at twice the salary that she had ever received teaching school. She had tendered her resignation at Norfolk Junior College and was on her way home to Sidney to pack her things and return to Lincoln to take up her new position with Prudential.

Just west of Lincoln, the right fork of the road, Highway 30 led directly to her home at Sidney. The left fork of the road, Highway 34, led west through McCook, where an old friend, Ralph Brooks, was the Superintendent of Schools. For some reason that she never did understand, she was suddenly filled with the desire to have a little visit with Ralph Brooks and his wife, Darlene. She recalled the incident later — She sat beside the road, debating with herself, “Should I go to McCook to visit, or should I go to Sidney and start packing? I came to McCook for a couple of days and stayed for 32 years.”

Mr. Brooks begged her to stay in McCook. School was to open the next day and he had no Junior High Senior High math teacher. Would she just teach for a few days until he could find a math teacher?

That few days turned into two and a half years — during which time she built the school math department from one small indifferent class to three large and enthusiastic classes. She also molded a winning debate team. She had good students and enjoyed a good relationship with those students. She liked her job. She had married H.C. McKenzie, a railroader, and the course of her life seemed to be set.

But Ralph Brooks approached her in the middle of her third school year and asked her to move to McCook Junior College and take over the math department there.

Her initial reaction was No! No! But even though Gwen’s debate teams had always defeated Ralph Brook’s teams when they had met in State Competitions, Brooks seemed to win arguments with her. She moved to MJC and stayed until her retirement in 1973.

Former students remember Gwen as an excellent mathematics teacher, who broached no nonsense in her classes, and that every student in her class was expected to do the work and pass her tests, athlete or scholar. She treated each student the same.

After teaching mathematics at McCook Junior College for 15 years the College Board asked her to take over the duties of President of MJC for just one year. She agreed, but that one year of being “Boss at MJC” was very taxing.

That year the college separated from the public school system — they built the von Riesen Library — they eliminated football from the athletic program — they introduced the Basic Adult Education program — they started an art program.

At the end of the school year Gwen was exhausted and set off for Europe with an art group. The trip changed her life. When she returned, she spearheaded a group, which raised the money for a new Fine Arts Building. For the rest of her life art was her passion.

But art was not her only interest. She found time to serve two terms on the Mid Plains Area Board. She worked with the Nebraska Council, was President of the AAUW, sponsor of Beta Social Sorority, was active in the Congregational Church activities, was a member of the Study Club of the Great Books of the Western World, received a governor’s appointment to the White House Conference for Child and Youth.

She was a founding member of the American Field Service in McCook. She was a director of the American National Bank of Sidney for 12 years. She was a charter member of the McCook College Foundation Board, watching over the Mary Brady Estate to see that it was used as Mary intended. She worked with the Nebraska Arts Council, sponsoring art exhibits, concerts, and speakers to McCook.

She represented McCook in art. She was treasurer of the Association of Nebraska Art Clubs. She had a picture purchased for the Permanent Collection of Artists of Nebraska. During National Businesswomen’s Week she was invited to hang a picture in the Nebraska State office Building with other Women Artists of Nebraska. She was instrumental in bringing nationally known artists, and art workshops to McCook.

In 1980, she was recognized as “The Citizen of the Year” by the McCook Elks Club, “in recognition of outstanding service to the community.”

After a lengthy illness Gwen McKenzie died at the South View Manor in Cozad in 1995. Her husband had preceded her in death in 1969.

We in McCook can be very grateful that when Gwen Jorgenson McKenzie came to that fork in the road in 1951, she chose to make the turn to McCook. Not only did we benefit from her talents as a teacher, an administrator, an artist, and friend while she was living, we found that she had not forgotten us after she left McCook. We learned recently that Gwen had remembered the people of McCook in her will, with combined gifts to the McCook YMCA and to the McCook College Foundation, amounting to well over $900,000. We are assured that Gwen’s presence will be felt in our community for years to come.


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