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Charmion McKusick

Interview with Charmion McKusick by the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society on October 12, 2021 in Globe Arizona. In the video Charmion describes being self-taught and serially checking out Alfred Sherwood Romer’s the “Vertebrate Body” as a young person. Then getting her degree at the University of Arizona, volunteering for Lyndon Hargrave, teaching at Gila Community College, illustrating others’ work and her long term study of macaws interwoven with the business she started with her husband, The McKusick Mosaic & Tile Company.

Charmion was born in 1931 in Waukegan, Illinois and passed away on March 26, 2022.

In September of 1949 her archaeological journey began studying anthropology at the University of Arizona. Her first evening at the U of A, she met Robert T. McKusick at the Freshman Mixer. They were married two years later. Charmion began working in the family ceramic business, where she worked at least part time for the rest of her life. She designed and decorated over 300 different Southwestern bird and animal designs. The business, along with baby daughter Kathleen and a herd of milk goats, was moved to Kellner Canyon in April 1950’s. Stephani and Robert joined the family in the mid to late 50’s.

In 1960 Charmion began working for Dale Stewart King Publishing as an editorial assistant, where she learned book layout. She then worked for Lyndon L. Hargrave as a contract laboratory assistant at Gila Pueblo, where she received her training in avian identification. She was hired as a permanent employee of the National Park Service in 1968 and received her training in mammalian identification under Thomas W. Mathews. When the Western Archaeological Center moved to Tucson, she remained at Gila Pueblo College as an instructor in anthropology and archaeology for about 19 years. Her happiest hours were spent in archaeological research, which resulted in three books on the Upland Salado, and numerous chapters in archaeological publications. She loved teaching, and took great joy in the success of her students.