Please join us at the Dairy Arts Center on June 30th at 11 am, as we say goodbye to our beloved friend and VIVA co-founder, Priscilla McCutcheon.
It’s fitting that a celebration of Priscilla’s life is to be held at the Dairy, an institution she helped start and was intimately involved with. Also an energetic co-founder of the Society for Creative Aging and its theater wing, VIVA, Priscilla lived a long and eventful life onstage and off.
We invite you to join us to share stories and memories with her family and her friends. A reception will follow the ceremony. There will be live music of her favorite songs by the Mark Diamond Trio. We’d love to see you!
Please dress colorfully!
Priscilla Brown McCutcheon
July 3, 1931—April 14, 2019
Priscilla left this world on April 14, 2019, just after midnight, surrounded by her loving family. She lived a very full life, touching many people who will be forever inspired by her and her many gifts to the world.
Priscilla once had a friend who said, “You should have run a company called Catalyst because you’re so good at helping people accomplish what they want to accomplish.” She was proud of that and throughout her life brought people together who needed each other to reach their goals. Everywhere she went she started or expanded programs and brought new perspectives.
Priscilla was born in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, to Floyd Brown and Marjorie Carter. She grew up with her older sister just outside Minneapolis in a house designed by her father. Many of her early memories involved going “up to the lake” in northern Minnesota. She always looked forward to the mailman arriving to their cottage in his boat, and she would sometimes ride along.
She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1953 with a degree in Hospital Recreation and a minor in Theater. She worked in Admissions and Records and, “for fun I went down in the records and looked up everybody’s IQ, including mine.” She went into recreational leadership and followed her dream to New York, where she got a job as Recreation Therapist at Brooklyn State Hospital. Even early in her career she initiated programs, such as a patients’ council that enabled patients to decide what they wanted for themselves.
Priscilla loved New York and carefully explored it eight square blocks at a time. It was there that she met her husband Van Dyne McCutcheon in 1956. It was a whirlwind romance: first date on Memorial Day, engaged July 4, and married September 20.
She often said, “I have sand in my shoes,” so frequent moves were adventures for her. She remained very active everywhere they went. In Toledo she worked in a home for unwed mothers while pregnant and was amused that visitors assumed she was one of the unwed mothers. There was no chapter of the American Association of University Women in Staten Island, so she started one and grew the membership to over 100. She worked on presidential campaigns and was tear-gassed at the 1968 Democratic convention. When inspired by John F. Kennedy’s call to, “ask what you can do for your country,” Priscilla and Van trotted off with their two kids to Washington, DC for Van’s government work.
Priscilla loved living overseas when they went to Colombia. Again she was involved in the community, participating in embassy activities and working with street kids in Bogota. When the family moved back to the States they ended up in Miami, Florida. She was a wonderful mom to her kids, but her nature led her to get involved in many activities in the community. She did everything from working on political campaigns to helping kids get educational opportunities to being a travel agent to volunteering at the Planetarium. She went back to school and earned a Master’s Degree in American Studies, focused on aging studies.
Her interest in aging quickly landed her a job at NCOA (National Council on the Aging), where she was the acting head of the Humanities Department. But when Van was hired to work in Egypt, Priscilla was eager to go. Living in Cairo took a little getting used to, she said: “if the road has four lanes, there will be eight lanes of traffic.” As always, Priscilla was very involved in the local community, putting together educational forums, writing a column in Cairo Today, and coordinating educational tours for American teachers.
Priscilla became Director of the National Center on Arts and Aging at NCOA on her return to Washington. She worked with people doing arts projects all over the country. She co-edited a book of literature related to aging, Songs of Experience, followed by another anthology, Love in Full Bloom.
Pris and Van searched the country for a place to retire. When they drove up the Front Range, they stopped at the Chamber of Commerce in Colorado Springs. The man behind the counter said, “If you’re conservative, you’ll really love it here, but if you’re liberal, go on up to Boulder.” So up to Boulder they came. The view coming over the hill on US 36 and a man fishing in Boulder Creek right downtown affirmed they had found their place.
Retirement was just a second wind for Priscilla; she was every bit as active as in her professional life. She helped start the Dairy Arts Center and the Society for Creative Aging and VIVA Theater, and was featured in roles in Cabaret, It’s a Wonderful Life, Through the Looking Glass, The Wizard of Oz, and Dude, It’s Boulder, among others. She worked with Community Access Television and the Boulder chapter of the United Nations Association, and actively participated in Fortnightly.
Van and Priscilla made many great and lasting friends, loved Boulder and the mountains and the many hiking trails, and took frequent trips to National Parks in the West. Thank you Boulder!
Priscilla was preceded in death by her parents, Floyd and Marjorie Brown, and loving husband of 50 years, Van. She is survived by her children Daniel and Elizabeth, sister Joanna, and nieces and nephews Sara, Kirk, Joe, Vivia, Dent, Elizabeth and their families
The family would like to thank everyone who helped Priscilla in the last few years.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to either Society for Creative Aging / VIVA Theater (here, or you can call us at 720-301-7658) or Trail Winds Hospice Foundation, 75 Manhattan Drive, Suite 208, Boulder, CO, 80303, (303) 442-5683.