Robert Thomas Cargo
TUSCALOOSA Robert Thomas Cargo, age 79, died Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, near Philadelphia, Pa. A native Alabamian, he had lived in Tuscaloosa since 1965.

He is survived by his daughter, Caroline Cargo (Bernard Peterson) of Paoli, Pa.; son, Robert T. Cargo Jr. of Thailand; granddaughters, Katherine Peterson of Philadelphia, Pa., Emily Anne Peterson of San Francisco, Calif., and Lucy Peterson of Philadelphia, Pa.; as well as his sister, Glenda Moody (Bill), and niece, Sharon Redick (John) of Dothan, Ala., and additional family members.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, Helen McCain Cargo; his parents, Mildred and John T. Cargo; and a sister, Mary Jo Henry.

Following his childhood and youth in Cullman County, Mr. Cargo graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with his B.A. degree in 1955 and from the University of Alabama with his M.A. degree in 1956. He was awarded two consecutive Fulbright Scholarships in 1959 and 1960, during which time he and his wife lived in Paris and then the Normandy region of France. Upon receiving his Ph.D. in French with a specialty in nineteenth-century French literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he came to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 1965. He was a member of the department of Romance Languages and Classics until his retirement in 1990.

As an avid collector of Southern folk and outsider art, he will be remembered as a friend and supporter of many Alabama artists. In 1984, Mr. Cargo opened the Robert Cargo Folk Art Gallery which remained in downtown Tuscaloosa for 20 years. A particular passion for him, as well as his wife, was their personal collection of quilts, which concentrated primarily on the quilts of Alabama but also included others made in the Southern United States. The collection began in the 1950s when Robert inherited a small group of quilts that had been made by Mary Anne Rouse Thomas, his great-grandmother with Blount County pioneer family roots. Around 1980, he also began collecting African-American quilts, likewise of Alabama origin. Significant portions of the Cargo collection of African-American quilts are held in the International Quilt Study Center in Nebraska. Thanks to the generosity of Robert and Helen Cargo's donation of their extensive collection of Alabama-made quilts, the Birmingham Museum of Art possesses one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Southern quilts in the country, documenting our state's entire quilt history.

Mr. Cargo leaves behind an enduring legacy, including his kind relationships with many friends who will continue to be embraced as members of his extended family.

The family will honor his wishes for a private memorial celebration at a later date.

Memorial donations may be made to his church community at University Presbyterian Church, 1127 8th Street, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401; or to the charity of one's choice.
Published by Tuscaloosa News on Dec. 30, 2012.
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I am very saddened at the passing of Dr. Cargo. I enjoyed our many conversations while he lived at Pine Valley. He was always very kind to my mother and I am so appreciative. The art community lost a star, but his work will continue. Here's to a life well-lived!
Candace Stephens
December 30, 2012
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