For local artists Bill and Andrea Disbro, blazing a new trail has been their life’s passion. A lifetime in the art field has brought them many memories and experiences they will never forget.
“We have been very blessed to live a dream our entire lives,” Bill said. “Andrea and I met when we were undergraduate art students at Kent State University, and we have enjoyed the field of art together for almost 50 years. This career has allowed us a freedom of creative expression for a lifetime.”
That creative expression continues at the Disbros’ new home on the campus of The Woodlands, a Heritage Senior Living Community in West Ellicott.
A LIFETIME OF
Both Bill and Andrea grew up in Ohio. Bill was born in Youngstown, and Andrea was born in Canton. Both had an affinity for art from an early age. Bill pursued his undergraduate work at Kent State University and later continued his studies there for graduate school. Andrea meanwhile was attending the Cleveland Art Institute and then spent her last two years at Kent State University where she met Bill. Both of them were graduated in 1962 and, as they say, the rest is history.
After graduating from Kent State, Bill landed a position in art education teaching at a very wealthy public school. Bill’s public education experience spanned close to two years. After the experience of teaching in a public school, Bill felt lead to return to graduate school to pursue a Master of Sculpture degree so he could teach at the college level. In 1964, he decided to enroll at Kent State for graduate work. At this time, Andrea was busy supporting their family working as an artist in Akron.
After being graduated from Kent State’s Master of Sculpture program, Bill taught at Adrian College (Michigan) from 1965-1970. In 1970, he had a desire to expand his career even further. After a very short search, Bill ended up at Jamestown Community College as the college’s first full-time art professor. As part of the package, he would develop and introduce JCC’s first art program.
Early in her career, Andrea pursued graphic and advertising work for the Ohio Bell Telephone Company. She also was thankful to have freelance work. Andrea started her career in the commercial art field (which is now graphic design) at a time where it was difficult for a woman to land a position in commercial art. While doing freelance work, Andrea raised their three kids. After the kids became ready for school, there was a need for a part-time art teacher at JCC, and in 1978, Andrea jumped at the chance to join her husband Bill in the Art Department. She taught classes in drawing, design and painting.
Bill and Andrea loved their experience teaching at the college level. After a combined 58 years of service to JCC, Bill retired in 2002 and Andrea in 2004. Since then, they both have been actively working on their own art projects. Bill most recently received a private commission to design the metal sculptures you now see in WCA’s new state-of-the-art Emergency Room.
While Bill and Andrea worked with many mediums, most of their work was completed in sculpture, painting, ceramics and stained glass.
Although Bill and Andrea have experience with the above types of mediums, their main focus right now is oil painting. One might wonder where they draw their inspiration which ultimately translates into their artistic expression. Bill states, “At this point in my career, the human figure is an essential component of my work as I observe the social and political environments of modern times.”
LIFE AT THE
Moving to a retirement community can be a difficult decision and a life-changing experience.
For Bill and Andrea, it was the right decision at the right time. “We first learned about The Woodlands community through an information session we were invited to through a direct mail piece,” Bill states. Andrea adds, “We had inquired with a couple places in Pennsylvania but they were too far away from family. The Woodlands was close to home. And, having a basement to establish an Art Studio was really important.”
Family has always been an important part of Bill and Andrea’s lives. They have three grown children, Julie, Megan and Toby; and five grandchildren they adore.
Another added benefit to living at The Woodlands for the Disbros is they can be close to Andrea’s mother, Susie, who is a resident at Orchard Grove Residences, The Woodlands’ Assisted Living program. It was becoming increasingly difficult for Susie to live on her own. Bill and Andrea were convinced that she needed help with certain activities of daily living.
Susie moved to Jamestown in 2002 from Ohio. Within the last year, medication management became an issue. Susie needed more.
Andrea said, “About the same time we started learning about The Woodlands, we were pleasantly surprised to hear about Orchard Grove Residences. We then decided to move Susie into her own private room. Since Susie has been at Orchard Grove her sleeping habits have improved markedly. She even bakes for the other residents. She loves it here and so do we.”
To view Bill or Andrea’s art portfolio and professional accomplishments, visit www.disbroart.com.
Located on Southwestern Drive in West Ellicott, The Woodlands is nestled on a 60-acre wooded property on Southwestern Drive. Reservations are currently being accepted for one- and two-bedroom duplexes and single family homes. For more information on The Woodlands, call Sandy Ahlgren, Senior Housing Consultant at 487-6874 or visit the website heritage1886.org.