About 100 friends of the late Chrysanthe "Chris" Strecker gathered in Lexington's Woodland Park Sunday afternoon to remember and celebrate the longtime potter, gardener and lover of nature.
Strecker, who was born in Greece and came to the United States as a young girl in 1955, died July 31. She was 69.
Friends said Sunday that Strecker was interested in forestry at one time, but ultimately found her true passion as a potter, molding clay into objects both functional and beautiful.
Her love of growing things continued, however, in her lifelong dedication to gardening.
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Strecker, who lived near Woodland Park, was a driving force in the creation of the park's Community Garden, near which Sunday's service was held. She also established flower gardens to bring color to a number of nursing homes around Lexington, friends said.
Strecker worked with others to preserve old trees in Woodland Park; co-founded Clay Artists of Lexington; worked as a foster parent; and was a volunteer for Hospice of the Bluegrass and Potters For Peace.
Friends said she was tireless when it came to sharing her gardening skills, and her creative ways in clay, with anyone who wanted to learn.
Many friends brought bowls, vases, pots and other examples of Strecker's work to Sunday's memorial service. A "Chris Strecker Memorial Tulip Poplar," planted in Woodland Park, was presented at the end of the ceremony.
"She amazed me. She was the most creative, inspiring person I've ever known," said Kallie Theodore of Lexington.
Theodore, who is Greek herself, said she and Strecker became friends because of their mutual backgrounds. Theodore fought back tears several times as she remembered her friend.
"She would give me energy whenever I saw her," Theodore said. "She inspired me with her thirst for life and all the things she did."
Strecker and her family initially lived in Ohio after arriving in America. Strecker moved to Tennessee and then to Mercer County, where she operated The Old Harrodsburg Pottery. Strecker later ran Peace Roots Studio on a farm near Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. From 2002 to 2004, she operated the Truth In Materials gallery in downtown Lexington.
Linda Glass, a friend for more than 40 years, said people were drawn to Strecker because of her strength.
"She was strong in a loving way, not in a strident way," Glass said. "Her strength was in her determination to do the right thing. She loved people and she loved what she did."
Pam Sexton said Strecker helped her care of her husband, Robert Sexton, when he was critically ill. Robert Sexton, longtime director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, died in 2010.
"She had more energy than any 10 men and women put together," Pam Sexton said. "She didn't just talk about stuff, she went out and did it. She was an example to so many people."