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Jeanne S. Rymer

In Memoriam: Jeanne S. Rymer

Retired professor led UD’s interior design program

Jeanne Stockdale Rymer, an interior design professional and educator who retired as an associate professor of fashion and apparel studies at the University of Delaware, died May 29, 2017, in California.

Prof. Rymer joined the University faculty in 1979 and directed the bachelor’s degree program in interior design, retiring in 1994. During her tenure, more than 200 professionally qualified interior designers graduated from the program.

Judy Van Name, also a retired associate professor of fashion and apparel studies and the first chairperson of what was then the Department of Textiles, Design and Consumer Economics, remembered Prof. Rymer as “a very dedicated faculty member who provided leadership for the growth and development of the Interior Design Program.”

Prof. Rymer received numerous awards and honors during her UD career, including an Innovative Instruction Grant, a research grant for energy-efficient window treatments, a Delaware Governor’s Award for energy innovation, a national award from the U.S. Department of Energy, an Environmental Design Award from the American Society of Interior Designers and an Energy Power Partners research grant.

Prof. Rymer began her professional career after raising three children. In 1970, she returned to West Virginia University and earned an advanced degree in interior design. She worked as an interior designer, including as director of design for two studios, and as a professor at Fairmont (West Virginia) State University and at Eastern Kentucky University.

She was active with the Associated Junior Leagues of America and, after retirement, with the Court Appointed Special Advocates program in Delaware, which provides volunteer assistance to children. She was a dedicated member of Silverside Church near Wilmington and served as chairperson of its Memorial Garden committee for many years.

Prof. Rymer developed an avid interest in furniture of the modernist era, particularly chairs by well-known furniture designers from the 1945-80 period. She built a personal collection of more than 100 vintage chairs, displaying them in her home in Delaware.

When she moved to California, she arranged for her modernist chair collection to be shared by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which featured it in the 2009 exhibition A Taste for Modern: The Jeanne Rymer Collection of 20th Century Chairs, and the College of Creative Arts Museum at West Virginia University. Prof. Rymer also had a collection of Depression-era Arthurdale furniture from her mother, which she donated to the New Deal Homestead Museum in Arthurdale, West Virginia.

Prof. Rymer is survived by a son, Eric G. Rymer of Fairmont, West Virginia; a daughter, Carole S. Rymer of San Diego, California; and a grandson, Gary K. Rymer III of Denver, Colorado. She was preceded in death by her husband, Gary K. Rymer, and son Gary K. Rymer Jr.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, July 29, at Silverside Church, 2800 Silverside Rd., Wilmington, Delaware.

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