MELBOURNE, FLA. — The Florida Institute of Technology campus community is mourning the passing of Ruth E. Funk, the long-time university benefactor and member of the Board of Trustees since 2008. Funk, 92, died Thursday.
“We are all tremendously saddened by this loss,” said Florida Tech President and CEO Anthony J. Catanese. “Ruth’s creativity, her energy—and perhaps most importantly, her tireless dedication to textiles education—have all had a transformative effect on this campus. Her legacy will be the generations of students who study the textile arts, and gain a stronger appreciation for their importance in our daily lives.”
Funk, an accomplished artist, designer and teacher originally from Texas, began her relationship with Florida Tech in 2003 when she exhibited at the campus Dream Weavers textile arts display. Since her exhibit at that first show, she has been a strong supporter. She first donated hundreds of items of kaleidoscopically colored ethnic textiles and wearable art from around the world, and jewelry and cultural artifacts of artistic and historic value. She also enriched Evans Library’s holdings of art and design material by almost 500 volumes.
Funk has funded the Uncommon Threads symposia, the annual textiles program, including the Annual Ruth Funk Lecturer in Textiles. In 2006, the university’s Funk Textiles Gallery opened in the Crawford Building. Her $1.25 million gift financed the building of the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts on campus—the only such center of its type in Florida. It opened to the public in 2009.
Known for her elaborately embellished jackets and coats, Funk has exhibited her work at the Maitland Art Center, Vero Beach Museum of Art and Brevard Art Museum. Her creations of wearable art have also been featured in various fashion shows at cultural institutions across the southeastern United States. In 2009, she published Cloth and Culture: Couture Creations of Ruth E. Funk. A tribute to the textile arts, the volume takes readers through the couture creations Funk has made over the last 25 years. More than 400 full-color images in 280 pages depict her art-to-wear designs.
Services are set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 14 at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 7200 N. Wickham Road in Melbourne. Beckman Williamson Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. Reception to follow at Suntree Country Club.