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Kay Ameche, 101; Former Nurse Started Painting in Her 60s

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Kay Ameche, 101, an artist sometimes likened to Grandma Moses because she began to paint in her 60s, died July 26 of natural causes in a Los Angeles residential facility, said her son, Randy Holland.

Ameche grew up near Chicago, where she was taken out of school at age 8 to help support her large family. After they relocated to Southern California, she earned her high school diploma at night and trained to be a nurse during the day. She worked in Hollywood-area hospitals, often caring for entertainment industry celebrities.

The idea of painting arose when she envisioned a seascape for her wall and could not find exactly what she wanted. The budding painter became a protege of primitive artist Streeter Blair. Her first two paintings sold for $250, and by the early 1990s, they were going for $5,000 to $10,000 each.

Ameche’s paintings have been purchased by such buyers as Ronald Reagan, Nelson Rockefeller, George Burns, Katharine Hepburn, Elton John and Robert Ludlum.

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