Former Kent State textiles and clothing professor dies at 93



Megan Wilkinson

Kent State emeritus professor Marlyn King Jenkins passed away Thursday at a Tennessee hospital at the age of 93.

Jenkins taught textiles and clothing at Kent State for 38 years. She was given the emeritus title when she retired in 1988. She was described as a charming woman who always accomplished her goals with grace.

Jenkins’ funeral was Sunday at the Kiser-Rose Hill Funeral Home in Greeneville, Tenn.

“She was just a very classy lady,” said Betty Davic, emeritus professor of fashion design and merchandising. “Everybody loved her. She was sweet and kind.”

Jenkins’ friends described her as the epitome of a lady because of her southern charm. Ingrid Schaefer Sprague, a close friend of Jenkins, said Jenkins made dresses in her spare time, spoke French fluently and traveled around the world — from Las Vegas to the pyramids of Giza.

Jenkins’ life was not always easy. Sprague said that shortly after Jenkins earned a community college degree, her husband passed away and Jenkins was left alone to raise her son, William. Sprague said Jenkins realized she had to go back to school to support her son and herself.

“My mother sometimes babysat her son while she was in school,” Sprague said. “She also got help from her in-laws in Ohio.”

Jenkins went back to school and eventually earned a doctorate degree in textiles and clothing from Ohio State University. She was hired by Kent State in 1950 as an instructor in textiles and clothing and was employed as a university professor in the home economics department until 1988. The department is now the School of Fashion Design.

As a part of her position, Jenkins participated in the university’s annual fashion shows, and she was very proud of the creation of the Kent State Fashion Museum by Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman.

While at Kent State, Sprague said Jenkins attended all the football games she could to cheer on the Flashes.

“She really appreciated the youth, culture and vibe of the university,” Sprague said.

During the May 4 shootings, most of campus was shut down until the fall semester. Sprague said Jenkins was one of the professors who decided to teach from home in Kent.

“It’s hard to imagine,” said Alice Darr, emeritus professor of adult counseling and colleague to Jenkins. “I recall some faculty finishing the school year by teaching from their homes in 1970 so students could get enough information to finish their courses that final quarter of class.”

Mary Kapenekas, emeritus professor of architecture and environmental design, said Jenkins was a fine colleague.

“She just always looked beautiful,” Kapenekas said. “She dressed up and was well-coordinated. She was a great boss.”

Sprague said Jenkins was a humble woman. She said she had class, manners, humility and education.

“She was very respected by her students,” Darr said. “I was in home economics education at the time, and my advisees all took classes with her. I know she was respected.”

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].