Woven 03

Priscilla Ann Gibson-Roberts

June 28, 1939 ~ February 24, 2024 (age 84) 84 Years Old

Priscilla Gibson-Roberts Obituary

Priscilla Ann Gibson-Roberts

On February 24, 2024, the indomitable Priscilla Ann Gibson-Roberts finally decided it was time to move on to greener pastures and new adventures. Born in the midst of a raging hurricane in Bay City, Texas on June 28, 1939, she was the youngest child of Elenore Paul Kretzschmar and Edwin Alexander Gibson and the great great granddaughter of Bailey Hardeman, who played a prominent role in the settlement and creation of the Republic of Texas. The first of her family to attend college, she went to Texas Technical College intending to study textiles engineering, but like so many aspiring women of that era, was pushed into home economics instead, despite having the highest GPA in her class. She graduated in 1962 with a BS in clothing and textiles and went on to graduate school at Purdue University in Indiana, where she graduated with her MS in textiles and married John Van Sant Roberts, a graduate student in geology. The early years of their marriage were marked by frequent moves across the the high plains and the rural intermountain west, where Jack worked for the US Bureau of Reclamation as a construction geologist. During these years Priss studied art at Utah State University and taught textiles classes at multiple community colleges while raising three small children. They eventually settled down in Colorado, on Green Mountain near the Denver Federal Center where Jack’s work with the BOR continued. Priss began teaching at the Emily Griffith Opportunity School (now Emily Griffith Technical College) and became the spinning editor of Knitter’s Magazine.

She went on to become a writer, sharing her knowledge and discoveries through numerous magazine articles and multiple books, several of them expanded and revised in later editions. Her work honored and shared the skills of traditional and historical textile artists, unearthed through her original research. She also traveled the US and Canada giving a popular series of fiber art lectures and workshops and was among a select group of researchers and instructors featured on a "Luminary Panel" at an international fiber event. She empowered many spinners, knitters, and weavers, and her written work will continue these contributions into the future.

In the early 1990s, she and Jack announced that they were dropping out of society to live off their land and with that, retired to their property in Cedaredge, Colorado where Jack gardened, fished, and honed his field photography skills while Priss, still a Texas farm girl at heart, ran a small flock of sheep with family friend and neighbor Cathy Palmer, also from Green Mountain, who was like a daughter to them. This venture was founded by Priss’s desire to help save the Churro sheep, an ancient and now endangered breed known for their role in Diné (Navajo) weaving. She continued to write, lecture, and give workshops until the scoliosis she had struggled with for years made rigorous work impossible. After a stint in Bastrop, Texas where the warmer climate soothed her chronic pain and brought her closer to her childhood, she and Jack moved into a retirement community near their eldest daughter Sheila in Toledo, Ohio, at the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Always a strong, determined woman, her will to live remained unvanquished despite being physically disabled and struggling with dementia. Her family was convinced she would outlive them all and were quite astonished when she suddenly decided to go. She is survived by her three children—the greatest achievement of her life, she used to say: Sheila Jo, a geology professor at Bowling Green, photograph curator Kimberly Jill, and US Marine, Yogi, and small business owner Bret Hayden; as well as three grandchildren, Athena Alexandra, Caleb Edwin, and Josephine Pearl, and her husband of 60 years and 11 months, Jack.

If you are a friend of hers or a fan of her work, please consider a donation to the Rio Milagro Foundation for their work in saving the Churro or to the wonderful caregivers at Ohio Living Swan Creek, who cared for her with unbounded love and tenderness for four long years. And please don't be sad, the hurricane she was lives on, invincible as ever: her fiber art books, now classics, will continue to be available for future generations through a newly minted agreement with Echo Point Books, thanks to the hard work of her longtime friend and editor, Deb Robson, her daughters, Sheila and Kimberly, and of course, a lawyer.

For further reading:

Knitting in the Old Way (1985, expanded 2003 edition)

Simple Socks, Plain and Fancy

Spinning in the Old Way/High Whorling

Salish Indian Sweaters (working title for reissue: Cowichan Sweaters)

Ethnic Socks & Stockings: A Compendium of Eastern Design & Technique.

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