PLYMOUTH — A rare, original Karl Drerup charcoal sketch has been donated to Plymouth State University by retired state Supreme Court Justice and Plymouth native Bill Batchelder and his wife, Betty.
Karl Drerup, a leading mid-century craftsperson best known for his colorful enamels, once taught Betty when he was Plymouth State’s art department chair, and the two became friends.
“Karl was one of Betty’s real heroes here at Plymouth,” said Judge Batchelder. “I arranged for them to have coffee about 20 years ago and he pulled this out from under his couch and presented it to her.”
“We want people to see it; we think this is a fitting home for it,” said Betty Batchelder. “I think it’s a great place for it.”
PSU President Sara Jayne Steen noted that the Batchelders have committed their time and energy to their community and the University, improving the social fabric of the town.
“They are genuine leaders,” Steen said. “They bring others together and accomplish much on behalf of the wider community. We are grateful for this very meaningful gift among their many contributions.”
Terry Downs, longtime PSU art department professor, said the charcoal drawing is a wonderful piece.
“This larger scale work is a fine example of narrative figure drawing,” Downs said. “It demonstrates tremendous skill with charcoal and is a major effort by an accomplished artist. We are thrilled and fortunate to receive this gift, as it represents the highest quality of ambitious artistry by the founder of the Plymouth State University art department.”
Born in Plymouth, Batchelder began his general trial practice in Plymouth in 1952 and practiced until his appointment as an associate justice of the Superior Court in August 1970. He was appointed to the State Supreme Court in July 1981. Batchelder’s distinguished service includes his dedication to the historical importance of the town of Plymouth and the memory of the Nathanial P. Rogers family’s fight for abolition; his foresight and vision in the creation of the Squam Lakes Science Center and volunteer efforts on behalf of the Plymouth Rotary, Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, Pease Public Library and Plymouth Historical Society. He is the past recipient of the Henry W. Blair Medal for distinguished public service and the Granite State Award from Plymouth State University.
Betty was a teacher, as well as being active in the community with groups such as the Plymouth Historical Society and enjoying gardening and farming. The Batchelders were married in 1955 and raised six children.
Betty notes that there is something especially apt in seeing the Drerup that she and Bill have loved, a drawing created by a wonderful teacher, now on display in the same room in Speare Hall where Betty once enjoyed teaching children.