By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ….
Artist and coin designer Susan G. Gamble died unexpectedly on Wednesday, January 14, 2015. She was 57 years old.
Gamble was born in Lynchburg, Virginia and grew up in Danville. She studied painting and graduated with a fine arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1978. After college, Gamble learned graphic design, digital page layout and operated her own business. This afforded her the flexibility she needed as she and her husband, Air Force officer Michael Gamble, were frequently required to relocate across the country.
As an artist, Gamble celebrated America’s cultural history and natural beauty, including work for the National Park Foundation and portraits of presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Her career as a coin designer began in 2004, when Gamble was selected to participate in the U.S. Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program. In 2008, she won the Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program Award for Excellence in Design. Gamble would eventually hold the title of Master Designer.
Former Chief Engraver John Mercanti recalled Gamble’s work, telling CoinWeek, “I remember working with her, when she started with us. It took a while for her designs to click, but I told her to stick with it… that one day her designs would be selected. Once it clicked for her, she soared.”
Mercanti, one of the most prolific coin designers in United States history, thinks fondly of many of Gamble’s designs–both used and unused–but it’s the reverse of the 2007 Jamestown 400th Anniversary silver dollar that stands out. It later won the International Coin of the Year Award for Historical Significance for the United States.
“That was my favorite design of hers,” Mercanti said.
Condolences from friends and former colleagues poured into a guest book hosted by legacy.com.
Fellow designer Richard Masters wrote, “I always admired both her degree of professionalism and her enduring dedication to her art.”
Designer Joel Iskowitz, who shared a number of coin sides with Gamble (including the 2009 commemorative dollar honoring Louis Braille) added, “Susan was an exceptional artist and a very fine person. Her designs were some of the best and cleanest of our group and she herself was a ray of sunshine.”
Of Gamble’s lengthy portfolio of selected designs, it was the 2008 Bald Eagle gold $5 obverse that Iskowitz liked most, giving it the highest praise.
“I always told her that I thought her Bald Eagle gold coin design was among the most beautiful in American coinage,” Iskowitz said.
Some of her coin and medal designs include:
- Air Force Combat Action Medal (2007-current)
- Jamestown 400th Anniversary $5 gold reverse (2007)
- Jamestown 400th Anniversary silver dollar reverse (2007)
- Washington State Quarter reverse (2007)
- Martha Washington First Spouse $10 gold bullion coin and bronze medal reverse (2007)
- Alaska State Quarter reverse (2008)
- Oklahoma State Quarter reverse (2008)
- Bald Eagle commemorative $5 gold and clad half dollar obverse (2008)
- Louisa Adams First Spouse $10 gold bullion coin and bronze medal obverse (2008)
- Louis Braille Bicentennial $5 gold obverse (2009)
- Louis Braille Bicentennial silver dollar reverse (2009)
- Lincoln Bicentennial cent reverse – “Presidency in D.C.” (2009)
- Letitia Tyler First Spouse $10 gold bullion coin and bronze medal reverse (2009)
- James K. Polk Presidential golden dollar obverse (2009)
- American Platinum Eagle $100 bullion coin reverse – “A More Perfect Union” (2009)
- Abigail Fillmore First Spouse $10 gold bullion coin and bronze medal reverse (2010)
- Franklin Pierce Presidential golden dollar obverse (2010)
- Olympic National Park America the Beautiful quarter and silver bullion coin reverse (2011)
- U.S. Army commemorative silver dollar reverse (2011)
- Lucy Hayes First Spouse $10 gold bullion coin and bronze medal obverse (2011)
- Alice Paul First Spouse $10 gold bullion coin and bronze medal obverse (2012)
- Denali National Park and Preserve America the Beautiful quarter and silver bullion coin reverse (2012)
- Ida McKinley First Spouse $10 gold bullion coin and bronze medal obverse (2013)
- Native American golden dollar reverse – “The Delaware Treaty” (2013)
- Tlingit Tribe WWII Code Talkers Congressional Gold Medal obverse and reverse (2013)
Beyond her coin and graphic design career, Gamble was also involved in the fights against Diabetes and Breast Cancer, having battled and survived both.
A graveside service will be held at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas on Monday, January 26, 2015 at 10:00 A.M.
She is survived by her husband, two children, a grandchild, her twin sister, her brother, a niece, and a nephew.
CoinWeek would like to thank photographer Laura McKenzie and the Herald-Zeitung for their generosity in allowing CoinWeek to republish their photographs of Ms. Gamble.