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ACU Remembers: Ginna Sadler

Virginia “Ginna” Joyce Gufstafson Sadler (’70), professor emeritus of art and design at Abilene Christian University, died March 12, 2023, in Abilene, Texas, at age 74.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. March 25 in the Ministry Activity Center at University Church of Christ (733 E.N. 16th St., Abilene, Texas 79601). Visitation with her family will be at 9 a.m. in the same location. 

Sadler was born June 25, 1948, in Austin, Texas, and graduated there from Stephen F. Austin High School in 1966.

She attended ACU (1966-67) and earned a B.F.A. degree in art education from The University of Texas at Austin (1970) and an M.F.A. degree in jewelry design and silversmithing from Indiana University (1974). She also studied at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine, and the Cincinnati (Ohio) Art Museum.

Virginia met Dr. Michael E. Sadler while they were doing graduate work in Indiana, and the couple wed June 9, 1973. She taught elementary art in Monroe County Community Schools in Bloomington, Indiana (1974-76) and high school art in the Victoria (Texas) ISD (1971). She began teaching at ACU in 1980 and retired in 2016, a career that nearly paralleled in length the years her husband taught on Abilene Christian’s physics faculty. She chaired the Faculty Senate in 2004-05 and received the College of Arts and Sciences’ Colleague Service Award in 2006.

Sadler was a member of the Texas Fine Arts Association, the Society of North American Goldsmiths and the Texas Association of Schools of Art; volunteered with Museums of Abilene and the Girl Scouts; served on the board of Friends of the Abilene Public Library and the administrative board of the Christian Service Center; and was a longtime member of University Church of Christ.

Her art was featured many times in exhibits, including at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.; Minnesota Museum of Art in St. Paul; Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Brookhaven National Laboratories in Upton, New York; Indiana University; Harding University; Union University; Lubbock Christian University; Texas Tech University; Abilene’s Center for Contemporary Arts; and ACU’s Shore Art Gallery. In 1985-86, her work was included in “Texas Visions: Sesquicentennial Celebration of Texas Artists,” a traveling exhibit for the Museum of Art of the American West.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Winfred O. Gustafson and Marion Joyce (McIlroy) Gustafson; and Michael, her husband of 48 years. Survivors include daughters and sons-in-law Lela (Sadler ’98) and Colin Thorne, and Laura (Sadler ’01) and John Mark Tittsworth; grandchildren Mavry Thorne, Eliel Thorne, Julissa Thorne, Wesley Tittsworth, Curti Tittsworth and Evelyn Tittsworth; and a brother, Fred Gustafson.

Donations in her memory can be made to Christian Service Center or to Christian Homes and Family Services, both of Abilene.

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