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Tuesday, September 6, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Seattle's `Grand, Grand Lady'

Friends called her the most elegant woman in Seattle, the daughter of a pioneer family who traveled the world but remained committed to the arts and history of her hometown.

Guendolen Carkeek Plestcheeff, who died Aug. 30 at the age of 101, will be honored at a memorial service Saturday.

"She was the most incredible human being I will ever know," said longtime neighbor and friend Herbert Hall. "She was full of wisdom and warmth and intelligence - a grand, grand lady."

Mrs. Plestcheeff, whose parents, Morgan and Emily Carkeek, donated Carkeek Park to the city of Seattle, was a founding member of the Decorative Arts Council of the Seattle Art Museum. To encourage research and study in decorative arts, she founded the nonprofit Plestcheeff Institute for the Decorative Arts in 1987. She particularly loved to collect and learn about furniture, porcelain and silver, Mr. Hall said.

Mrs. Plestcheeff inherited her parents' deep regard for the Puget Sound area and for preservation of its history. Active in a variety of causes over the years, she declined to discuss her age but told a reporter in 1979: "People are going to have to live to be 200 to get all the things done that need doing."

Born in Seattle in 1892, Mrs. Plestcheeff began school in Seattle and after the eighth grade attended schools and convents in England and Switzerland.

In 1929, she married a Russian Prince, Theodore Plestcheeff, whom she had met in Estonia.

The couple traveled often, dividing their time between Seattle and Paris, until he died in 1962.

For 17 years, Mrs. Plestcheeff served as president of the Seattle Historical Society, which her mother had founded in 1911. She helped raise money to establish the Museum of History and Industry.

Her Capitol Hill home, a 1909-vintage mansion built by railroad magnate Sam Hill, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

A memorial service will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Trinity Parish Episcopal Church, 609 Eighth Avenue. Remembrances may be made to the Plestcheeff Institute for the Decorative Arts, 814 E. Highland Drive, Seattle WA 98102.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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