Story by Heather Gottschalk
The Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising recently lost two esteemed champions of our work in textile education. Katharine “Kax” Wilson and Lucile E. Hawks both left legacies of appreciation that will contribute to the Avenir’s mission for years to come.
Katharine “Kax” Wilson
Katharine “Kax” Wilson passed away on March 19. As a retired member of CSU’s faculty and friend to the Avenir Museum, she was a beloved member of the community. Her contributions to the Department of Design and Merchandising continue to be her legacy as her words will touch minds of many students.
Wilson had a rich history steeped with green and gold. She attended Colorado State University in the 1960s, earning her B.S. and M.S. in textiles and clothing from CSU in 1963 and 1966 respectively. She met her husband Hobart B. Wilson while attending college.
Wilson was a faculty member at Colorado State University from 1963-1976 and authored a textbook in 1979 entitled A History of Textiles, and several magazine articles.
Her colleague Doris Hime remembers her as “One of my favorite co-workers at CSU. She really knew her textiles and if I needed answers she filled me in. Kay stopped by my frame shop many times and we always had some good conversation as well as laughs. I will miss her very much.” After her teaching career at CSU, Wilson and her husband spent several years raising their children in Canandaigua Lake, New York.
In 1999, Wilson and her husband returned to Fort Collins where she remained a patron and supporter of the Department of Design and Merchandising, and attended many exhibitions at the Avenir. We’re proud that her name is on the Museum’s donor wall – a welcome reminder of her contributions.
Lucile E. Hawks
Lucile E. Hawks passed away on March 14, at the age of 101. Hawks was a treasured member of the extended Avenir Museum family. She was an avid gardener, traveler, learner, collector, seamstress, and quilter.
A Kansas native, Hawks was born in Hiawatha in 1917 and received her bachelor’s degree in Home Economics and Art from Kansas State College (now University) in 1939. She then worked in various schools throughout Kansas teaching Home Economics. Of her years in the education profession, Lucile recalls proudly that she developed teaching methods not used in the books by having students set their own goals, then meeting with each on a weekly basis to review their progress. She had a passion for the individual spirit and personal growth.
Throughout her years of teaching she also pursued her master’s degree at Colorado State University. She completed her M.S. in home economics in 1958 by spending four summers in Fort Collins taking two intensive four-week courses simultaneously – at that time, tuition for each course was $44!
Hawks was already an accomplished seamstress, and then upon retirement, she took up quilting. Beginning in 1985, she made her first four full-size quilts before switching to create miniature quilts around 1990.
In 2016, Hawks generously donated 125 miniature handmade quilts to the permanent collection at the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising.
Hawks once said that “education opens new worlds to people” and that textile collections help “preserve the past and bring wonder and beauty into the lives of others.” Hawk’s miniature quilt collection was featured in Tiny Bits and Pieces, the inaugural exhibit in The Lucile E. Hawks Gallery in the museum’s newly expanded spaces that opened in 2016. Her name also graces our donor wall, a gentle reminder of her steadfast support.
Lucile E. Hawks and Katharine “Kax” Wilson were great friends to the Avenir Museum, and over many decades, to the professional evolution of the Department of Design and Merchandising. They will be greatly missed; we are grateful to have known them.