Charlotte Preston, the affable former English professor who good-humoredly organized scores of industry educational events and conferences, died Oct. 8 of cancer. She was 62.
After teaching English at Marymount College in Salina, Kan., Preston joined the American Gem Society as publications manager in 1985, editing its Handbook of Jewelry and Gemstone Appraising. In her eight years with the group, she rose to assistant executive director and then executive director of the Jewelers Education Foundation. After that, she moved to Minnesota and began her own business, Charlotte Preston Catalysts, which organized conferences for groups such as the American Gem Trade Association, Retail Jewelers Organization (RJO), and JCK Las Vegas. She also consulted with jewelers on strategies. She closed the business in March.
In 2004, she received the Women’s Jewelry Association award for excellence for special services. In 2011, the group’s Twin Cities chapter gave her its Shining Star award. Last month, the RJO gave her its board of directors award.
“Charlotte has made a profound difference in the lives and professions of so many in our industry,” CEO Mary Peterson said at the event. “We are all the better to have worked with you, learned from you, and enjoyed your friendship.”
On Facebook, Preston wrote how much she appreciated the award, although she was too sick attend the ceremony.
“I’m glad to have worked with many wonderful people over the course of time, and I am especially moved that many of those folks have shared gentle and private good-byes as well as beautiful public sentiments,” she said.
After receiving her diagnosis, Preston chronicled her illness online at Caring Bridge. In her introduction, she said she is often asked if she has a bucket list.
“I’m delighted to know that I don’t have a bucket list,” she wrote, “because we have lived together the life we want. Loved, loving, and having experienced together the sweetness of life.”
She is survived by wife Mary, son Jake, and sister Sharon.