Jeanne S. Rymer was born and reared in Morgantown by her parents, Charles E. and Bly Schaffer Stockdale, and spent the first half of her life in the state.
During her 25-year marriage to Gary K. Rymer Sr., at their residence in Fairmont, where Mr. Rymer was a practicing attorney, Jeanne was committed to her role of wife and mother of three, Gary K. Rymer Jr., deceased, Eric G. Rymer of Fairmont, and Carole S. Rymer of San Diego, California. Grandson Gary K. Rymer III resides in Denver, Colorado.
Increasingly during her child-rearing years, Rymer became involved in volunteer work related to her interests in church, children and creative/artistic activities. She was chairman of her church flower committee for many years and a consistent volunteer for youth activities (Bible school, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and needy children).
Later, as demands of motherhood eased, Rymer focused on developing her skills in design-related areas such as Japanese garden design and flower arranging. She returned to West Virginia University and received an advanced degree in interior design in 1970 and began freelance work in Fairmont and Morgantown. Also, she enjoyed a four-year tenure as professor of housing and design at Fairmont State College. Community volunteer activities were organized through the Junior League of Fairmont Inc.
After the death of Gary Rymer and their children's launch into adulthood, Ms. Rymer focused on professional activities which included a professorship of interior design at Eastern Kentucky University and professional practice of design in Lexington, Kentucky, for three years. Her tenure at McAlpin's in Lexington included several years as director of design for two studios.
At this point in 1979, Rymer joined the faculty at University of Delaware as head of the interior design bachelor's degree program. It was from this position in 1994, after building the degree-granting program that graduated over 200 professionally qualified interior designers, that she retired.
During her tenure at UD, professor Rymer received many awards and honors including an Innovative Instruction Grant (1982), a research grant for energy-efficient window treatments (1983), a Governor's Award for energy innovation in Delaware (1985), a national award from the Department of Energy (1985), an Environmental Design Award from A.S.I.D. (1986) and an Energy Power Partners' research grant (1998). She was listed for many years in the Who's Who of American Women, as well as Who's Who of America, 57th edition.
Rymer's 17 years as a professional woman were enriched through Associated Junior Leagues of America (AJLA) and, in her retirement years, through Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which provided meaningful volunteer assistance to children in troubled family situations in New Castle County, Delaware. During residency in Wilmington, Rymer was a dedicated member of the Silverside Church and served many years as chairman of their Memorial Garden Committee.
Dr. Ivar Stakgold, her partner for more than a decade, encouraged Rymer's serious interest in furniture and antiques, at this time, but with variations. Her knowledge of furniture styling and history led to a new avocation as an antiques dealer. This quickly developed into a very focused appreciation of the modernist era, specifically chairs by well-known furniture designers of the 1945-1980 era.
This avid interest resulted in the building of a personal collection of more than 100 vintage chairs, and the opening of the Rymer Stakgold Museum at 19 Wood Road in Wilmington in 2001. This collection was featured in Southern Living, Delaware Today and the Philadelphia Magazine in the early 2000s.
The Arthurdale Collection was also opened to the public as part of the Rymer Stakgold Museum. It was the premier assemblage of the furniture which resulted from Eleanor Roosevelt's inspiration and guidance under the National Industrial Recovery Act (N.I.R.A.) of 1933 (which was the first legislation of Franklin Roosevelt's presidency). This rare collection of colonial revival, Shaker and country-styled furniture, collected by Rymer's mother in the 1930s, had been in her possession since the 1970s. That collection was gifted to The Arthurdale Museum in West Virginia and is the preeminent collection of this very rare historic furniture, produced for less than a decade.
Before her death, Ms. Rymer also arranged that the Modernist Chair Collection to be shared by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the College of Creative Arts Museum of West Virginia University. Today, this collection is the premiere furniture assemblage that highlights the University Museum in Morgantown.
Friends are invited to a memorial service at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 29 at Silverside Church, 2800 Silverside Road, Wilmington, Delaware. Internment of cremains will be in the Memorial Garden of Silverside Church, of which Ms. Rymer was director for many years.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be sent to the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program to benefit needy children in New Castle County, addressed: New Castle County Courthouse, 500 N. King St., Suite 901, Wilmington, DE 19801-3761
Published on July 16, 2017