MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Tucked behind a former Catholic elementary school in Montpelier lie some artistic treasures.
"You wouldn't think it was a museum," said Linda Paradee.
It's the T.W. Wood Art Gallery, named for Thomas Waterman Wood, a native-son, and successful 19th century painter. "He was very good at painting portraits," Paradee said.
Paradee knows just about everything about the painter -- she's volunteered here for over three decades.
"To my left here is probably one of his masterpieces. It was painted here in Montpelier on the corner of State and Main," Paradee said. The painting is called "The Quack Doctor." Montpelier residents posed for the artist. "And if you look on the side of the wagon, it says, "Doctor I AM Cheat. He had a wonderful sense of humor."
Reporter Joe Carroll: Why did he leave Montpelier?
Linda Paradee: it gets cold in the winter.
Paradee's life started in rural Connecticut. She had an eye for the visuals. "I was quite young when I went to my first museum, and I was just blown away," she said.
After graduating from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design she came North.
Reporter Joe Carroll: So what brought you to Vermont?
Linda Paradee: A job.
Even though she was a painting major, she took a job at a printing company in Montpelier. That's where she met her husband, Brad, who has since passed away. "There was something always magical about printing," she said.
At her house in Montpelier, just past a self-portrait she painted when she was in her 20s, lies a book she designed. "It was this one here -- this one is the first addition," she said.
Paradee, who then worked at Vermont Life magazine, put together a coffee table book in the late '60s. It was their first, and it was a hit. "By the time we were done, we had printed over 100,000 of them," she said.
At $15 a book it was serious money. It also got the magazine out of debt. "But you can look through that book today and it's timeless," Paradee said.
She feels fortunate to have been at the magazine during the glory days. She rose through the ranks to become managing editor. Now 80, she hasn't slowed down. "Life is a journey full of discoveries. Sometimes if I feel like painting, I will," she said. "I can't literally go outside without seeing the world in a very visual way."
Back at the museum, executive director Ginny Callan says she relies on Linda. "Having somebody like Linda is invaluable to us," Callan said.
"I'm just so glad to be around, and I just feel so fortunate," Paradee said. "We learn to speak when we are little kids, but we start of by learning how to see."
But for most of us, we drop the crayons or the brush early on in life.
Linda Paradee: Art is magic.
Ginny Callan: it takes you to another place.
Paradee is still on visual voyage. "Yes, yes. It does not dim. It does not dim," she said.