Ben Garbarek

He was a teacher, a mentor and an artist-and Dec. 15, Miami University lost former art professor and textile designer Thomas Gilmore.

Gilmore, 87, passed away from pulmonary fibrosis, complicated by heart and renal failure.

Gilmore taught at Miami from 1961 to 1990, creating a successful program in applied and surface design.

“(Gilmore’s biggest achievement was) the students he produced,” said Joseph Cox, former chairman of the department of art and associate provost at Miami. “It’s hard to go a day without seeing a product his students haven’t done.”

Cox said the applied and surface design program focused on the design of flat surfaces with colors and patterns-like carpet, clothing and wallpaper designs.

He also said the designs Gilmore created took many factors into account, such as geography, history and natural elements.

While at Miami, Gilmore was nominated for Miami’s Effective Educator Award several times and for the Outstanding Teaching Award in 1987.

“He wasn’t an awards kind of guy,” said Mark Gilmore, Thomas’ son. “He took pride in seeing his graduates succeed in his field. That was his biggest thrill.”

Graduates of his applied and surface design program were highly sought after graduation, Mark Gilmore said.

Cox said that Miami had one of the few programs of this kind because Gilmore was one of the few people able to teach it. Since his retirement, the program has been stopped.

According to Cox, Gilmore even attracted faculty from other universities to come to Oxford to take his courses.

“He helped train professional designers at the highest level,” said Ralph Raunft, professor in the School of Fine Arts.

Cox also said Gilmore’s specialty was in designing plaid fabric for clothing and that some of his work is still on exhibit at the Knolls of Oxford.

“It’s eye-popping stuff,” Cox said. “Few know that the human hand and eye can do such stuff.”

Gilmore was born in 1920 in Manhattan, N.Y. After serving in the Army during World War II, he attended the Rhode Island School of Design thanks to the GI Bill.

After graduating with a degree in textile designs in 1950, he worked in the Manhattan offices of Bates Fabrics as a colorist and designer from 1950 to 1952 before moving on to work for Dan Rivers Mill from 1952 to 1961. While at Dan Rivers Mill he was a designer and director of art design in the shirting and sportswear division.

Gilmore moved to Oxford to teach at Miami in 1961 and achieved rank of full professor in 1979. While teaching at Miami, he spent his summers during the 1960s in Manhattan, working as a designer and consultant in the textile industry.

Memorial donations are suggested to the Oxford Community Arts Center, VITAS Hospice Charitable Fund, or the Future Care Fund for Benevolent Care Needs of Residents of The Knolls of Oxford.