MARQUETTE - It was a routine visit for therapy for employees of Norlite Nursing Center & Rehab in Marquette, but the care and compassion shown by staff inspired artist Nita Engle to donate one of her watercolor works to the facility.
The piece entitled, "Fisherman at Dawn" was signed by Engle. She included a special thank you on the front and the back of the painting. The piece now hangs in Norlite's lobby.
"She stressed a lot on the aides about how well they had taken care of her," Norlite Activity Director Vanessa Miazga said. "She kind of gave kudos to the departments because of the well-rounded care that we have here at Norlite."
Watercolorist Nita Engle works in her studio in northern Marquette County in a 2004 photo. (Journal file photo)
Nita Engle is no ordinary woman. She attended Northern Michigan University and then went on to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After school, she worked in advertising and illustration, producing for publications like Readers Digest and Playboy.
"I did painting on the side and people liked my work and word got around," Engle said. "If you want to make a career as an artist, you have to pick a medium and stick with it."
So, halfway through her career, she started teaching watercolor classes. She traveled to Italy, England, China and Africa to teach tour groups how to paint watercolors in these exotic locations.
"In Africa, we went out on safari and took pictures of the animals," Engle recalled. "We couldn't get up close and paint them it was too dangerous. We went back to the lodge and painted them."
Even now at the age of 88, she hasn't retired from painting. She still works every day and has deadlines to meet. Since she hasn't retired, when she broke her wrist she went to Norlite so she could rehab and go home and back to work.
"They had me there because I broke my wrist and they were so great and the quality of care there is so good," Engle said.
For Miazga and the staff of Norlite, receiving such a gift was very touching.
"It was fantastic and ... a great praise to have somebody from the community come in that you know a lot of the residents are very familiar with, especially our art enthusiasts," Miazga said. "To have her want to donate a piece that's probably out of her own private collection, it was very nice of her to think of us and want to leave some sort of lasting impression as thanks to us."