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Their life together has not been without its challenges, but such is the commitment “... for better or worse …”

Debbie and Richard Hulbert have lived a life filled with beauty, without regret, with full commitment to one another. Five years ago, when he needed a kidney transplant, she was there with a donation.

Unlike the song of their generation that rang out, “…Take another little piece of my heart now, baby…” that talked of a broken heart. Debbie and Richard’s life together has been a love affair from the beginning, and now it’s his turn to stand by his wife as they go through another trying time.

Debbie has been diagnosed with an especially aggressive breast cancer, which is now in Stage 3.

She has retired her position on the executive board of the Clymer Foundation and asked Clymer curator Matthew Lennon take over her responsibilities for her New Artists Wall space at the museum so she can concentrate all her efforts on recovery.

“I just underwent my second round of chemo and just beginning the process. Right now, I just have to get better,” said Hulbert, who discovered the lump in July. “For me there is nothing more important than getting better because I want to see my grandchildren graduate.

“Five years ago, I donated a kidney to Richard and everything has been going great. Now, I’m blindsided by this potentially inherited cancer. I’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, the most aggressive of all the cancers.”

The good news is that it was discovered early and doctors have laid out a treatment plan.

“I’m already in chemo. The cancer is on the on-ramp, but not on the freeway yet,” Hulbert said. “They scanned my body. They did ultrasounds everywhere, so they did catch it in Stage 3 and not Stage 4.

“Right now, I get the strongest chemo therapy that’s the most devastating to the body that it can be. It’s going to kill the cancer and come short of killing me. That’s the plan anyway.”

Hulbert has been active in the direction of the Clymer Museum/Gallery, working with its executive board of directors to continue the vision of John Clymer and his work.

In 2020, she opened the door to her vision of offering new and upcoming artists the opportunity to shine in one of the most decorated galleries in the Pacific Northwest.

Hulbert, creative chief at Keigh Design, rented wall space in the Clymer Museum/Gallery and dedicated it to introducing unknown artists from around Kittitas County.

Her first group introduced the work of Nick Burson, Re Hart and Brenda McPherson on the First Art Walk in March of 2020. It’s been going strong ever since and been well received in the art community.

“Right now, I’m looking for new artists for the space. The Clymer vision is promoting Western way of life, whether it is country living, animals, agriculture or Native American, which is what John Clymer was all about,” Hulbert said at the time.

“We are ready to expose a new group to the public.”

McPherson’s work was later exhibited in the main gallery, as was the work of local photographer Verne Rainey.

Hulbert’s local discoveries were first introduced on the space in the entrance way to the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame. Some have made their way to the main gallery, continuing the vision of John Clymer and his dedication to the American West.

Rodney Harwood: award-winning journalist and columnist. Lover of golf and the written word. I can be reached at rharwood@kvnews.com

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