Marcus quilters missionary ‘in stitches’ for 50+ years


MARCUS – For more than 50 years, the Quilters of Holy Name Missionary in Marcus have been making and donating quilts to those in need.

The group started in September 1966 and is still going strong.  In the beginning, there were 51 members who made both large and small quilts.

Now there are 17 women who gather at Holy Name Church the third Thursday of the month, September through April, but not December. They are “armed with a sewing machine, iron, fabric, batting, rotary cutters, quilt tops (pre-sewn by a few volunteers), needles, thread and the determination to ‘get ‘er done,’” said Sue Dentlinger, who has been a member of the missionary for five years.

“The quilts are tied and the binding sewn on by machine,” said Dentlinger. “Prayer is offered before coffee and refreshments are served. Some members take the quilts home and finish sewing the binding by hand.”

Throughout the year, approximately 80 baby quilts are completed. The quilts are 42 inches wide and 60 inches long or 42 inches square. Each new baby in the parish receives a blanket and the balance are donated to Birthright of Siouxland.

“At one time, they (the women) made bandages for the lepers,” said Bonnie Means, vice president of the missionary. “They made pajamas for boys and girls, too. At one time, we used to make bigger quilts and gave them to St. Augustine’s Mission.”

Some of the original members are about 85-90 years old and “just the sweetest bunch of women to work with,” said Dentlinger.

“They have taken a few of us in our 60s under their wings,” she said. “I think they are almost ready to pass the torch and hope what they started so many years ago lives on.”

The officers of the missionary are Patricia Brady, president; Means, vice president; Helen Brady, treasurer; and Alice Wittkop, secretary.

Brady has been the president of the missionary for more than 20 years. Dentlinger noted Brady once said, “One has to die to be removed from office.”

“It is hard to follow in the footsteps of such a well-oiled machine,” said Dentlinger. “Her (Brady’s) task is to sew the binding to the top on quilting day and run the meeting which is short and to the point. She is funny, short on words, very thoughtful and a talented quilter. Her sister, Celine Pedersen, trims the quilts after they are tied.”

Brady enjoys being with the other ladies and “giving our time and quilts to Birthright.”

Means has also been part of the missionary for more than 25 years. According to Dentlinger, Means currently sews most of the quilt tops together prior to quilting day.

“She and her sister, Betty Seggerman, assemble the quilt tops, batting and back and get them organized on tables for tying before others arrive,” said Dentlinger. “She and a few others like Dianne Rupp-Klassen and Peg Wurth, go to close out sales and/or auctions and stock up on fabric. Bonnie is the ‘go to’ person for parishioners with new babies to select a quilt.”

Accomplishing something is a joy for Means.

“You feel good about it,” she said. “The Birthright people come to a potluck in Marcus to pick up the quilts. I think they really appreciate it. My sister Betty used to make a lot of baby booties and so did Beverly Kosse (to donate).”

Means added some of the women also go to garage sales and purchase extra baby clothes, receiving blankets and bibs to give to Birthright.

“The ladies enjoy working together and accomplishing something they feel can help someone else,” said the vice president. “It’s good for them.”

Dentlinger enjoys doing something for others “especially when it comes to babies.”

“There is lighthearted bantering back and forth, the farm work ethic, listening to others visit about family, friends and whatever might be happening in others’ lives and the community – good or bad,” she said.

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