Mrs. Geraldine Funk Alvarez died Monday, January 12, 2009. She was the wife of the late Colonel Antonio Alvarez. They were married 56 years.
She was born in Lancaster, daughter of the late Oscar and Myrtle Howry Funk, both of whose ancestors were among the first settlers of Lancaster County in the early 1700â€™s.
Mrs. Alvarez graduated from The Shippen School for Girls in 1937. She studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, earning her Bachelor and Master degrees in Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. She also studied at the Barnes Foundation in Marion, Pa.
During her student years, she received many awards in drawing, painting and textile design, one being the Cresson Memorial European Traveling Scholarship in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts.
After graduate work at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, she was asked to join the Dorothy Liebes Textile Studio in San Francisco, California. While there, she was invited by the Insular Government of Puerto Rico to initiate, establish and direct a weaving project with a goal toward exporting. She chose to create hand woven textiles from the islandâ€™s native fibers.
Luscious in color, sophisticated in design and style for a present market, the textiles were soon in demand. Many of the great department stores of the day included the fiber textiles among their merchandise. Lord and Taylor in New York City and Nieman Marcus in Dallas, Texas gave them full scale promotions in 1949 in their home furnishings and fashion departments. Lord and Taylor decorated their 5th Ave. windows exhibiting the many uses of the textiles for screening, rugs, chair webbing, lampshades, window blinds, pillows, table mats, day and evening bags and belts.
Decorators and architects used the Puerto Rico Fibers Textiles in many homes in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean as well as in public places such as the window shades woven for the Starlight Room of the Waldorf Astoria in New York City and the Midland Petroleum Club in Midland, Texas.
Museums were interested in the artistic intrinsic value of the textiles over and above their meritorious commercial value. They were included in the major invitational exhibits, “Textiles U.S.A.” in 1956 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Gathered there were the most remarkable and artistic and functional textile designs of that century.
Internationally there were exhibits at the Feria Muestrario Internacional, Valencia, Spain and Exposicion Internationalle de Haiti, Port-au-Prince. A South African magazine published the fiber textile story. Data was provided upon request from the Department of State of the U.S.A. for their use, and the Voice of America broadcasted similar information behind the Iron Curtain.
For the childrenâ€™s world, she illustrated for Jack and Jill magazine, “The Christmas Cookie Game” and “The Astronaut Flight Game” published by Curtis Publishing Co. of Philadelphia.
She was asked by the president of the Red Cross National Arts and Skills during World War II to design beautiful and meaningful products from tons of donated raw materials stored away for possible use in rehabilitation programs for the severely injured and mentally disturbed military men, who were rushed from boats to trains to Van Nuys Hospital, Los Angeles, California. Red Cross volunteers working in these units also had her instructions and assistance.
Mrs. Alvarez served as Chairlady for the Rotary Anns at the Rotary International District 739 Convention at Hotel Hershey, Hershey, Pa.
She volunteered in many of the activities of the Vermont based Experiment in International Living in Lancaster County.
Mrs. Alvarez served on the Archives Committee of the Moravian Congregation, Lititz, Pa., where she was also a member.
She is survived by a daughter, Pansy Christina Maurer, wife of Christian A. Maurer of Zurich, Switzerland, and a son, Jack Antonio Alvarez, husband of Janice E. Alvarez of Chester County, Pa.
Services and interment will be private and held at the convenience of the family.