NORMAN — Martha Longenecker, who founded the Mingei International Museum, died Oct. 29 at Scripps Memorial Hospital in the San Diego community of La Jolla of complications from a stroke. She was 93.
She suffered the stroke at home in La Jolla three weeks before she died, while preparing to announce a foundation she was starting to further promote the mengei concept.
Martha Williams Longenecker was born May 18, 1920, in Oklahoma City. She earned her undergraduate degree in art at the University of California, Los Angeles, before studying at what is now Claremont Graduate University. In 1955, Longenecker took a position at San Diego State, where she developed the school’s ceramics program. She taught there for 35 years.
She started the nonprofit Mingei International organization in the U.S. in 1974 to present lectures and exhibitions, and promote the tenets of the movement. Three years later she was offered a 6,000-square-foot space in the new University Towne Centre shopping center for $1 a year to start a museum. It opened in 1978 with the exhibit “Folk Toys of the World.”
She was preceded in death by two husbands and her two children.
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