Carol Deaner: The Panhandle’s Patron of the Arts

Carol Deaner



Carol Deaner wants to make sure everyone in and around Sandpoint can access the arts, from elementary age schoolchildren to adults visiting this resort town in the upper reaches of Idaho’s panhandle. 

At 80, Deaner can reflect on a lifetime supporting the arts in various ways, wherever she has lived—from docent at art museums to arts instructor to serving on any number of arts-related boards. 

In Minnesota, for example, she served on the Victoria city council and her local school board, moved away for several years, and eventually returned to work as a docent at the Minnesota Museum of American Art. While living in northern California, she was a docent at both the San Jose Museum of Art and the de Young Museum in San Francisco, while also running her own antique shop. 

In Tennessee, although she ran the snake exhibit at a Nashville-area wildlife park, she found a better fit at Cheekwood Museum, where she helped create the docent program.

“I know that it is kind of a cliché, but life is actually a journey,” said Deaner. “You need to take advantage of each stage of this journey.”

Deaner’s journey started in southern California, where she worked as an Xray technician, eventually heading the radiology department. She went to college, enjoying a few art classes, then taught college-level radiology technology. 

In the latter stages of her career, she worked for a startup company designing and building radiology information systems, followed by a stint at Digital Equipment Corporation as regional manager in charge of Mayo Clinics.  

Retired since 1996, Deaner and her husband have lived in Sandpoint since the late ‘90s, where she has been immersed in the local arts scene. She attended a meeting of the Sandpoint-area organization Pend Oreille Arts Council, which had been involved in both performing and visual arts events and initiatives since 1978. 

Shortly after, Deaner pitched in with their first gallery, then volunteered to teach art lessons to local 5th graders through a POAC program called Kaleidoscope. 

More than 20 years later, Deaner is still involved with the arts, serving as POAC Board president and visual arts chairperson (she also spent 7 years chairing the city’s arts commission). 

Deaner also served on several additional community and medical-related boards and committees, so it’s no surprise she was named the 2007 Woman of Wisdom and the Chamber top volunteer in 2012.

At the time, award presenter Kim Diercks said of Deaner, “She doesn’t just get involved or attend meetings, she takes on major roles.” Diercks then added, “As with all of Carol’s commitments, the value she adds and her energy and creativity are impactful and unequaled. Her civic contributions continue to be an inspiration to, and motivator for, many people. She’s a rock disguised in the form of the Ever-Ready Bunny.”

The bunny has slowed down a bit as of late, however, when a new executive director was hired to run POAC. 

“It’s always been call Carol, and I don’t want it to be that way,” said Deaner, who is enjoying retirement—technically, her second retirement. 

She’s also enjoying sharing her love of art with four grandchildren, whom she takes to art galleries and museums and has been steadily furnishing with artwork for their someday homes. 

Deaner’s legacy will live on not only through her own children and grandchildren, but through the thousands who have experienced art because of her efforts. 

A breast cancer survivor, Deaner is pragmatic about her journey and has no regrets. 

“I gained knowledge, experience, empathy, and understanding along with many other attributes along this journey,” she said. “Many times, I wish I would have been better prepared, but that isn’t the way it works.”

Deaner remains positive despite the challenges.

“I am now entering the later stages of that journey,” she said. “Some of these latter stages haven’t been easy, but I am sure that the attributes I picked up along the way will help me finish this journey with confidence and dignity.” ISI

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