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Acclaimed textiles preservationist endows scholarship

University of Rhode Island - Pacer
By Jhodi Redlich

Internationally known for her work in restoring treasured textiles and for establishing guidelines on clothing designs for the disabled, Evelyn Siefert Kennedy Commentucci also has strongly woven her support for her alma mater.

The president and founder of Sewtique, Inc. and of Promote Real Independence for the Disabled and Elderly (PRIDE) Foundation, both in Groton, Conn., Commentucci has established an endowment at the University of Rhode Island to help students who share her passion for textiles, textile science and the fine arts.

“I feel that my success is largely based on my experiences at the University as a student and as an alumna,” said Commentucci, who earned her bachelor’s degree in textiles and clothing in 1969 and her master’s in 1972. “I believe in giving back and want to provide funds to help a student travel, to study a special area of textiles, or to enhance the educational experience.”

Having served on the URI Foundation Board of Trustees since 1985, Commentucci knows well that income from her endowment will help generations of students. The Evelyn Siefert Kennedy Commentucci Scholarship will be awarded to students majoring in textile sciences, fine arts, or Italian Studies. The award will be based on financial need and presented in honor of her husband, Frederick, with preference given to students of Italian heritage.

“Mrs. Commentucci has never stopped giving back to the University,” said Alan Axelrod, URI’s assistant director of planned giving. “From her involvement with the work of our students and faculty to her work with the Foundation, her warmth and support have been a constant treasure. We are proud and appreciative of her continued interest.”

Commentucci is well known in the classrooms of Quinn Hall as her work and expertise are often cited by professors. Less than a year ago, the 25th anniversary of her thesis defense was recognized with an exhibit of fashions for physically challenged children and adults. In April 2004, she was named one of the first inductees in the department’s new “Alumni Wall of Fame.”

“Whenever I’m invited to talk about textiles to students or to professionals in the field, I always say that there’s far more to know about fabric than just sewing. It’s one of the most important and constant things in our lives,” said Commentucci, who also serves on URI’s Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design Department Advisory board. “From the beginning of life to the end, textiles surround us. We enter this world wrapped in a receiving blanket and end (usually) in a coffin where fabric surrounds us. Throughout our lives fabric defines our personality and those wrappings continue to shape individuality.”

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