Remembering Cheryl Collins

Cheryl Collins presents at “150 Years of Tall Tales, Heroes, and Outright Lies,” a panel sponsored by the Department of English (25 Sept 2011)

We were so sorry to hear last week of the passing of Cheryl Collins.

Cheryl served as Director of the Riley County Historical Museum for more than 30 years, and, since 1996, also oversaw the Goodnow House State Historic Site. In both roles, she was an invaluable partner for the faculty and students in English.

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Almost exactly ten years ago, Cheryl was one of several panelists helping us understand “150 Years of Tall Tales, Heroes, and Outright Lies,” a panel session organized by the English Department and hosted by the Manhattan Public Library. As noted in the news release for the event, Cheryl shared resources on the history of Manhattan’s own hero of “fakelore,” Johnny Kaw: behind-the-scenes information about the creation of Kaw as a figure to prompt mid-20th-century tourism, complete with original sketches and an early model of the giant public statue in City Park.

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More recently, Cheryl was always ready to serve as a resource for students seeking guidance on possible career pathways in museums and historical societies, answering their questions during information interviews. She also assisted our students with research projects, including the digital archive on “How the Cook a Raccoon: History of Kansas Recipe Collections” (Fall 2018) created by students in an undergraduate Honors seminar taught by Steffi Dippold as well as student projects inspired by the Goodnow House Library for Steffi Dippold’s graduate seminar on “The Art of the Archive: Media, Materiality, and Memory” (Spring 2019). 

We’re grateful to Cheryl for her years of service and for all of the guidance and information she shared with so many, including those of us here in English. We send our sympathies to her husband G. W. (Gary) Clift and son John, to her extended family, and to her colleagues and friends.

— Karin Westman, Department Head

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