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In Memoriam: Patricia Rose

Published August 31, 2020

Dr. Patricia Rose passed away on August 27, 2020 at the age of 91. Beloved sister to Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Smith, aunt to Jimbo Smith, Anne Selvey, and Tricia Willis, great-aunt to James, Matthew, and Alex, and godmother to Rachel Hudson, Rose retired in 2002 after teaching art history at Florida State University for 30 years and serving as chair of the Art History Department for 17 of those years.

During her time at FSU, she brought together an outstanding faculty, handled the demands of her position with unwavering grace, patience, and humor, and treated generations of students with dedication and respect. Art History undergraduate and graduate students recall her generous guidance and her inspiring classes on Northern Renaissance art. She set a high standard as instructor, mentor, and scholar – as alumna Janie Curry writes, “academically keen, but amazingly compassionate and personally involved, wanting the best for each of us.”

The faculty, students and staff of the department and of the College showed their affection for Dr. Rose with a retirement celebration in April 2002, at which time she was named Professor Emerita. Dozens contributed to a memory book of letters, drawings, notes, and photos describing her remarkable influence on their lives and careers. Longtime colleague Dr. Jack Freiberg wrote, “As intrepid leader, comrade-in-arms, and friend, you have brightened every day…I cherish each memory.”

That year, Dr. Rose also made a generous donation of her extensive collection of art books. Originally shelved in a 70-square foot space, the 1,200 books became the foundation for our Art & Design Library, now located in the William Johnston Building. The library houses a non-circulating collection of books donated by faculty, alumni, and supporters of the College of Fine Arts. The books are available for in-room, and the library serves as a quiet study space for students and a venue for many CFA events. Students who never knew Dr. Rose continue to benefit from this legacy and from her steady guidance that built the Department of Art History. Doctoral student Rachel Carlisle writes, “I never met Dr. Rose, but I have certainly felt the generosity of her spirit during my time in Tallahassee. Through her namesake fellowship and department library, she will continue to positively impact the lives of students for many, many years to come.”

In recognition of Dr. Rose’s true passion – the students – her family has begun an endowed fund in her honor which will support the Art & Design Library she helped to found. Through the Patricia Rose Fund in Art History, hours in which the space is available for students will be expanded and the Library and Rose Collection will be preserved and maintained for future generations of students.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that gifts be made to the Patricia Rose Fund in Art History.

Make a gift online by clicking the button below, or mail your check, made payable to “FSU Foundation” with “Patricia Rose Fund” in the memo line, to: FSU Foundation, 325 W. College Avenue, Tallahassee, FL 32301.

When Dr. Rose retired in 2002, her students, colleagues, and friends prepared a special tribute: a book of memories of her inspiring guidance and ongoing influence on their lives. You can see all 72 pages at the link below.

Send your memories of Dr. Patricia Rose, so that the FSU Department of Art History can compile them for family, alumni, and colleagues who were impacted by knowing her. Additional photos and memories will be added in the coming weeks.

Comments & Remembrances

Carola Perla Galvez: When I finally decided on an Art History degree in the late 1990s, I had the good fortune of choosing Dr. Rose’s Northern European Renaissance Art among my first classes.     I did not fully realize at the time that my lecturer was also the department head, but minutes in, I knew I wanted to learn anything this poised and elegantly reserved woman had to teach me. I enjoyed her direct delivery and her intellectual confidence, devoid of embellishment or dramatics. She was the sort of professor I had wished for at school, but which in my three years at FSU at that point I had rarely encountered. That wonderful combination of old-fashioned academic dedication and fair-mindedness. She never sought to be obscure, intimidating, or play favorites, but offered knowledge to anyone willing to work earnestly for it. I looked forward to every day of that course and the ones that followed, and valued her support whenever I sought her counsel. She always made time for me.     Perhaps the above is not one memory, as such, but I wished to add my voice to this memory book and thereby help in commemorating a very special professor and person, whose teachings and guidance remain among my favorite experiences at FSU.    I continue to cherish those hours spent coffee in hand, in a dark lecture room with black&white slides of 600-year old Dutch engravings before me, Dr. Rose’s steady narration rising overhead to bring them to life. In those few hours, she made university exactly what I wanted university to be, and I will always feel profoundly grateful to her for that.

Karen Hill: I am so thankful that my life intersected with hers. I often think of her infectious smile and genuine interest when I would walk into her office about some random thing. I learned so much from her. I will miss her and pray for all – Peace to you, Dr. Rose.

Dr. Susan Baldino: It’s hard to believe she’s gone, but she will always remain in our hearts and in the spirit that surrounds us. 

Janie Curry: My heart is deeply saddened, what a treasure she was/is to us all — academically keen (her challenging MA comps — us trying to consuming essential details of every image from Janson & Gardner) but amazingly compassionate and personally involved, wanting the best for each of us. Photo in Jean’s backyard with Cynthia Hahn‘s children — late 80s? I am every so grateful for her and that time in my life.

Dr. Barbara Johnston: Dear Pat!! I have thought of her so often over the years. She changed my life and gave me the one I have now, she supported me during the roughest period of my life, and kept me moving toward my goal. So much of what I am I because of Pat, and I will always be grateful. She never gave up on me, when nearly everyone else had. It’s very rare in life to meet a truly noble soul, but Pat is one. She is a great lady and we have all been blessed to have known her and been touched by her in so many ways.

Dr. Cynthia Hahn: I was thinking of her just the other day. It’s good to think on her greatness, her dedication, her deep warmth (which she always tried to hide behind a professional demeanor). I am so lucky to have known her and am cognizant that she gave my career a huge boost with her support, and her own selflessness. I will miss her presence in the world. 

Robin Franklin Nigh: Dr. Rose will always be Dr. Rose. I’m grateful she had faith in each of us…and more than once I have found myself quoting her, especially when it comes to family. I remember her saying once “I looked down at my arms and saw my mother’s hands” …this helped me more than I can say when my own mom passed.

Dr. Lauren Weingarden: Pat was a quiet but powerful leader. A generous humanitarian who inspired students and faculty. She ruled with grace, compassion, and patience. There will never be another scholar, mentor, colleague like Pat.

Charles Whited: When I applied to graduate school seeking my M.A. in Art History, the then Chair of the Art History Department and last of the old Princeton scholars, John M. Schnorrenberg, in my interview, asked me who I had studied under. “Dr.s Pat Rose and Gunther Stamm at FSU,” I stated enthusiastically.  Dr. Schnorrenberg calmly replied,  “Ah, yes I see.” (pregnant pause) “Very good then.” (pregnant pause) ” Welcome to our program.”

Katie Brown: Dr. Rose was one of the first professors I met at FSU when I started my undergraduate coursework in Art History in 1986. The first memory that comes to mind is her walking up the hallway from her office toward the Slide Library several times a day. I remember her calm demeanor as a port in the storm for me during what were years of uncertainty in many ways. She took a genuine interest in how I was doing academically and always took the time to talk to me in her office and let me look through her books. When I asked her if I could start an undergraduate Art History Club, she supported it, a gesture that I still appreciate. Likewise, she helped me figure out ways to study in Florence twice. I took Northern Renaissance and the History of Prints with her. Dr. Rose’s having opened my eyes to those fields remains important to me to this day.I cannot look at a Dürer print without thinking of her lectures and the joy that viewing these works gave us both. Rest in Peace, Dr. Rose, and thank you.

Whitney Wilhelm Langholz: Dr. Rose was one of my favorite professors in the Art History department at FSU. I always knew Dr. Rose cared about me. That always came through. She was supportive and encouraging. She was one of the first professors to see me as an individual student rather than just part of a lecture audience. I have always appreciated what she did for me when I was a student.

Cheryl (Cullom) Stewart, Dr. Rose, and Jan (Lawson) Ladnier, Summer 1983

Dr. Allys Palladino-Craig:  Glimpses: Patricia Rose lecturing on Northern Renaissance prints while the projector streamed a woodcut Madonna across her face; driving home late from the Appleton Museum, hemmed in by semis on I-75, missing the exit to I-10, and ending up laughing in Valdosta at midnight; re-hanging an exhibition to remove the Museum’s transcription painting by Alexander Nasmyth (1858-1840) of  The Jewish Cemetery because Dr. Rose knew students should not be introduced to van Ruisdael (c.1629-1682) through a copy rather than his original; admiring Patricia’s field tactics deploying symposium presenters into SUVs for a whirlwind trip to Wakulla Springs in order that they not leave Florida without a memory of its natural beauty.

Jim Mulvehill: Dr. Rose was one of the finest professors I had while at FSU. Her vast knowledge and intellect, her extraordinary capacity to convey concepts, and her positive nature made our learning experience a special experience.

Mary L. Patterson: Dr. Rose helped me decide to major in Art History in 1986 at FSU. I had been criticized by family for getting a degree in Art History but I am so glad I majored in a subject that I really loved. She helped me greatly. She will be missed.

Lisa Macdougall: Dr. Rose was one of a kind. Pure brilliance and grace. Her classes were taught with such great scholarly knowledge that you could not help but take every class she taught.    Her office hours provided more than guidance on homework and exams but were full of great counsel and compassion, especially to a student, like myself, who did not follow a linear path in their studies. Her kindness, understanding, and unrelenting encouragement meant that a wayward student could find their direction again and go on to do what they have always dreamed of.Before I left to start my new museum job, Dr. Rose gifted me one book from her extraordinary library, “Treasures from The Pierpont Morgan Library” inscribed ‘Patricia Anne Rose March 2, 1957’ to take with me. It was a gift that meant so much and in some ways, always felt like I had her with me over the years. I was fortunate that we remained in touch once I moved away from Tallahassee.

Her letters, like her classes and office hours, always brought great joy and comfort to me and I enjoyed hearing how and what she was doing and of course about basketball. I still have them to this day. She will be missed by many but her memory will always be with us students who she taught and touched so profoundly.

Dr. Aaron De Groft: I am profoundly sad. I met Pat when I came for an interview in 1993. We both had a love of baseball and art history. I hit it off with her immediately and would visit with her every day. She played Scrabble with her 95 year-old-mother every night and watched Braves baseball on TBS while playing. In my interview with her I remarked on the bust of the Apollo Belvedere on a marble column in her office and she said, “No one ever knows what that is.” Talk about being humbled: a bunch of high flying graduate students took her History of Prints seminar. We all failed the first quiz. Why? Our answers were not up to snuff. She wanted the dimensions of the prints and in what collection where one could be found. Details mattered. It was an excellent lesson. I will never forget this grand person. She is one of three people who defined my life (including Dr. Nancy DeGrummond). I am profoundly grateful to all of them and to FSU. Peace on her soul and Godspeed. I love you, Pat.

Dr. Viki D. Thompson Wylder Dr. Rose was the Chair of the Art History Department when I was in graduate school.  In her position as the Chair of the Department I always found her to be fair and thoughtful.  Unlike many people who seem to feel burdened by such a position, she not only appeared to take the responsibilities of such a position seriously but to gain satisfaction from her administrative work as well as her art history research and teaching.  She seemed to genuinely like students and she was supportive… Eventually I asked Dr. Rose to serve on my doctoral committee.  I worked in the FSU Museum of Fine Arts and she would stop by my desk at times to comment on my dissertation as she read it.  On the committee her voice was open-minded, calming, and equitable.  I appreciated her presence.

Shaun Pritchard:  I’m so thankful for my time with Dr Rose. One of the first teachers I met when I arrived at FSU back in Jan 2001. She made sure we knew everything about the art history we were studying. I often think back to all the extra time she would spend with me in her office helping me with the subject matter. I pass on a lot of her knowledge to my K-8 students today here in Philadelphia. She truly was one in a million, for me it was like Morrie from Tuesdays with Morrie.

Paul D. Harvill:  On the FSU Florence Italy Study Program from June 16 to December 16, 1976 , is when I met Dr. Rose. She was a delightful, knowledgeable, wise, humble, contemplative, compassionate, and lighthearted professor and woman. The most significant incident on the program occurred in Naples. Dr. Rose warned us about things disappearing and suspicious hands. As we were disembarking the train, the first thing that happened was her passport being stolen out of her purse. She appeared to take the incident in stride and to be taking the incident with grace and good humor.
Her lectures and presentations were delightful.  Always calm, even with the passport theft…Dr. Rose, Dr. Fred Licht, Dr. Gunter Stamm, Dr. Erasmo Gerato, and Dr. John Iorio of the University of South Florida, were my faculty. Thanks to them and Florence, Italy, I was transformed into a relentless art and history museum devotee. Been back about ten times, including nearly a month long visit in December 2019. Intending again. Dr. Rose, thank you.

Stephanie Leitch: I met Pat Rose only once, but her reputation preceded her. I was a new visiting assistant professor hired by FSU to teach Northern Renaissance Art. Sometime during that harrowing first semester of teaching, I met a local craftsman who was interested in engraving. When I told him what I had moved to Tallahassee to do, he recalled taking a class like the one I described I was teaching. It was Pat’s class, of course, and he realized that the passion he had since developed for carving scrimshaw was very much influenced by what he had learned from her about Martin Schongauer and the early Netherlandish printmakers. Soon after, my colleague Lauren Weingarden asked me to accompany her on one of her many visits to Pat so I could meet the lady whose very large shoes I was hired to fill. I asked the scrimshaw man to come with us. We had a lovely time: he brought his scrimshaw and memories of his class with him–and I remember Pat being so politely appreciative of his gesture and admiring of the samples he produced. It was a great lesson for a professor just starting out: you may never know the many ways that students will receive what you are trying to teach them, and even the ones you may not think are listening might be quietly channeling the engravers of the Rhineland in their basements. I feel like I knew Pat from the example she set–and I frequently remind myself of this in class.

Obituary: Dr. Patricia Rose, March 4, 1929 – August 27, 2020