(Editor's Note: This story has been edited to reflect additional pick-up times, due to enthusiastic response.)

College of the Ozarks has begun making masks to honor Mynette Ulrich, one of their own and the C of O fruitcake baker for 30 years, who passed away March 15. 

Now, the Ulrich family is honoring her memory by donating hundreds of bolts of fabric for the College to launch “Mynette’s Masks.”

According to a release, “Mynette is remembered for her love of smiley faces and her willingness to share a smile with each person she met. An avid quilter, she generously made over 100 quilts, and never charged anyone a dime. She was a part of the 100th anniversary of the College and baked a 100-Ilb fruitcake for the festivities at the request of President Jerry C. Davis.” 

The release also stated she accompanied the late Lady Margaret Thatcher, British prime minister, for a tour of the C of O Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen in 1997.

Now using hundreds of bolts of her donated fabric, the community at College of the Ozarks decided to help neighbors during the COVID-19 crisis by making cheerful face masks, reminding everyone of Mynette’s joy and love for others.

“Mynette’s husband, Ed, had a sewing barn built for her containing more than 2,000 bolts and bundles of fabric,” said Dr. Sue Head, vice president for cultural affairs and dean of character education. “The Ulrich family is honoring Mynette’s memory by donating some of the fabric, and the College is launching ‘Mynette’s Legacy Masks.’ Her family knew of no better way to remember Mynette than by making and giving away masks for the people of the Ozarks during this pandemic.”

C of O volunteers have been working from home to cut, iron, and sew masks, and the College is providing mask-making kits for the public to help in this project.

The first 100 masks were delivered to the Taney County Ambulance District and area fire and police departments. 

Additional masks will be delivered to Cox Medical Center Branson and made available to the public.

Lori Vanderpool, R.N., clinic administrator at College of the Ozarks, helped launch the project.

“I knew Mynette well,” Vanderpool said. “I feel like we shared the same heart strings: the Lord, our family, and making quilts for others. She was a wonderful woman of God, and her love for him and others was contagious to all who knew her.”

Vanderpool and a group of dedicated C of O quilters began making masks last week, testing the pattern, putting kits together, and leading the charge on a worthy cause.

Vanderpool helped C of O administrators monitor the outbreak of COVID-19 from the beginning and has informed them every step of the way in order to help safeguard the campus community.

“Wearing a mask while you are out in public places is one more step you can take to attempt to prevent becoming ill with COVID-19,” Vanderpool said. “Wearing a mask does not guarantee you will not get the virus, but it may help. Do your part to keep yourself, your family, and your community safe. Commit to positivity. There is so much negativity in the world today. Stay positive and make a difference. This is a time when fear meets faith like no other. God is in control and we must trust him and do our part!”

According to the release, family was of utmost importance to her. In addition to her work at C of O, she served as the bookkeeper for the family business, the Downtown Texaco in Branson, Missouri, alongside her husband, Ed. Both sons, Dane and Dean Ulrich, graduated from C of O.  

Daughter Dee Dee Ulrich is the service manager for Downtown Texaco.

“My mom always saw the good in everything,” Ulrich said. “She never had anything bad to say about anyone or anything. My mom would have something positive to say even now, as we deal with COVID-19. As mad as I get, and want to blame God, I just smile a while. I think that’s what my mom would have told me to do.

“To the College, thank you for giving my mom the opportunity years ago to be a part of that family. She absolutely loved what she did. She loved the students. She loved the people coming in on buses. If there was little bit of my mom in everybody, the world would be a better place.”

How to help

Currently, mask-making kits are available for pick up in the gazebo in front of the Alumni Center, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily while supplies. Anyone is welcome to participate in this project and help sew masks.

    Each kit contains material and instructions to make five masks.

    Once masks are completed, they can be returned to the laundry hamper at the front of the Alumni Center. They will be taken to the C of O laundry to be washed, pressed, and sealed in individual sleeves to be given out to the public. (Returning them as soon as possible helps our community quicker!)

    Completed masks may be returned in a plastic grocery sack, tied with a knot.

    Masks will be available for pick-up at the Alumni Center from 8-10 a.m. April 21, 23, and 28, and from 4-6 p.m. April 30. People are welcome to pick up individual masks, free of charge.

    Please take what you need and save the rest for others.

For additional information, contact Public Relations Director Valorie Coleman at 417-690-2212.

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