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Northport artist Shirley Geller dies at 85

Shirley Geller, an artist from Northport who was married to a renowned architect, had her work published in Life magazine, among other prominent publications.

An avid gardener, Geller's real passion was painting, said Jake Gorst, her grandson.

"She had a really unique style," Gorst said. "She loved painting landscapes and florals."

Geller died July 14 in Ithaca of a heart-related ailment. She was 85.

Born in New Orleans on Nov. 28, 1924, Geller was a teenager when her family moved to Queens. She graduated from Newtown High School in Elmhurst in 1941. She went on to major in art at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

That's where she met her husband, modern architect Andrew Geller, who designed modern beach homes in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, said Gorst, of Northport. "They actually met in the cafeteria," Gorst said. "He offered her half his sandwich. She ate it because she thought he was cute."

The couple married in 1944. In the early 1940s, Geller worked at The Wilmot Agency, a Manhattan industrial design firm, where she designed the packaging for Jujube candy, made by the Heide Candy Co.

After her marriage, Geller ran a part-time clothing design business out of her home, and her work was featured in Mademoiselle magazine. An avid photographer and gardener, Geller was a longtime member of the Northport Community Garden Club. In 1986, she designed and maintained Skidmore Garden, on Main Street in Northport.

She produced hundreds of paintings and drawings and won awards for her work in local and regional art competitions. Her work was published in Life magazine and Amerika, a U.S. State Department magazine distributed in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

In 2000, a large collection of her pen-and-ink works produced over a 60-year period, called "Whimseys," was compiled and many of her designs were featured in Taproot magazine, a Long Island-based publication produced by senior citizens.

Survivors include her husband, Andrew, of upstate Spencer; a son, Gregg, of Manhattan; a daughter, Jamie, also of Spencer; a brother, Philip, of Stroudsburg, Pa.; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A memorial has yet to be scheduled.

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