Dr. Sky Cone and Patton graduate student Triana Gannon show a piece from the Mary C. Doxsee Historic Clothing and Textile Collection. Half of Cone's gift to OHIO will support the collection.
Photo courtesy of: Patton College of Education
Apr 1, 2013
By Colleen Kiphart
Assistant Professor of Human and Consumer Sciences Schuyler “Sky” Cone has spent her career preserving the garments and textiles of the past and preparing those passionate about it to take up her mantle in the future.
Cone, who will retire in June after 23 years with the University, will continue to nurture her passions long after she has left with her $60,000 gift to the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education.
Her gift will be divided into two parts. One half will go toward the Mary C. Doxsee Historic Clothing and Textile Collection, housed in The Patton College of Education. The other half will endow a new scholarship for upperclassmen in the Retail Merchandising and Fashion Product Development Program.
“I created this scholarship because I wanted to help students out,” explained Cone. “I’ve seen so many students struggling, and it just breaks my heart. I wanted to help them out because they’re good students, and I could make their lives a little easier. It’s a hard to be student and pursue your education when you’re worried where your next meal is coming from.”
That concern for her students’ well-being is a signature of Cone.
“She’s inspired so many people; she has an infectious personality,” said Tim Binegar, director of development at The Patton College who collaborated with Cone to develop her gift. “You can tell she cares about her students. She makes you feel important, and her students respond to that energy.”
Cone’s specialization is historical costumes and textiles and, in particular, the conservation, restoration and preservation of historical clothing and textiles. It’s a subject she’s been interested in since making her first garment in a junior high home economic class. And it’s an excitement she sees in her students.
“When I see a spark of interest, I like to fan the flames,” explained Cone. “It’s wonderful to see a person get their ‘wow’ figured out in college. I really want to keep these students who are interested in this going.”
Cone currently works with her “wow” as curator of the Mary C. Doxsee Historic Clothing and Textile Collection, recipient of the other half of her gift. The collection has been a part of OHIO since 1953.
“Mary Doxsee, a former professor here at Ohio University, had a fondness for collecting older clothing,” said Trina Gannon, a graduate student in The Patton College and assistant curator of the Doxsee Collection. “It is something I am very passionate about and it is a great tool to reach out and share with the students. There are times students are amazed by what people had worn, but I am sure the men and women of yesteryear would be just as amazed to see what we wear out in public nowadays.”
Cone is a former student of Doxsee’s. Even as an undergraduate, she and Doxsee shared their deep love of textiles over the collection, which boasts pieces ranging from traditional Moroccan ceremonial dress, to clothing worn by African American slaves, to hat pins and dresses owned by OHIO’s first ladies.
“I had a big trunk my mother had that was filled with old clothes my sister and I used to dress up in,” recalled Cone. “I took some of these things to Mary Doxsee, and she picked up one dress and said, ‘Do you know what this is?’ I told her that it was a dress. Mary said, ‘It’s not just a dress! It’s a Charles Frederick Worth, the father of haute couture!’ She held onto it and said, ‘And you’re not getting it back.’ Mary had such a great sense of humor and was such a lovely lady!”
She has given the Doxsee Collection her time, her research, even her clothing. Now she’s giving it a more secure future.
“I want to make sure that this does not go away,” said Cone. “We don’t need all this stuff, but if you lose all these things your life and culture is diminished. We could study them and learn about our culture and predecessors. It really is a window into the past. They are items of great beauty.”
The details of her gifts are still being determined, but Cone is glad that she is helping ensure the past has a future with Human and Consumer Sciences students at Ohio University.
“I feel fortunate that I could give the gift,” she said. “I feel very blessed, and I just want to see this collection live on beyond my lifetime.”
Ohio University's current capital campaign, The Promise Lives Campaign, has raised more than $413 million toward its goal of $450 million by June 2015 in support of students, faculty, programs, facilities and community partnerships.
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