Five years and nearly 200 quilts later, Anita Davis of Hill City is ready to say mission accomplished.
Davis and 29 members of the Stitchin’ Sisters quilting group have logged a lot of stitches to say “thank you” to Graham County’s veterans as part of the national Quilts of Valor project. The project honors vets by providing them with a quilt in recognition of their service.
This Sunday after the Stitchin’ Sisters present eight quilts at the Frontier Stage performing arts theater in Hill City, they will have honored 190 vets, Davis said this week in talking about their effort.
“We had this list of vets. We started out with a small list, and it kept growing and growing and growing,” she said.
On Nov. 20 they’ll present eight more at a Hill City High School ceremony, bringing the total to 198.
“That will wrap up our list,” she said. “We think that we have all the veterans taken care of.”
Davis originally worked from a list provided by the American Legion. It had the names of 52 vets. Then there were neighbors, and friends of friends, and relatives of neighbors and friends.
The stitchers started with World War II veterans, then Korean War veterans, then Vietnam War veterans, working their way up to present-day conflicts. They presented the first quilt in 2014.
Davis recalls one Vietnam veteran, Leon Desaire, who wore his uniform to her church on Veteran’s Day and carried the flag.
Another is Jim Logback, a former U.S. Navy man. Logback served aboard the USS Jason (AR-8) repair ship as a supply corps officer from 1962 to 1965 as Vietnam was starting to heat up.
He received his quilt more than a year ago.
“There were 20 of us in that group,” Logback said. “I didn’t really feel as worthy as a lot of the others who were in battle. I did have my separation from my family, but the military was good to me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything now.”
He remembers his first six months at Officer Candidate School at Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island.
“My first weekend, I had screwed up bad enough during the week’s training, I didn’t get off the base like the others,” he laughed. “I had to stay back for extra marching and other duties.”
As co-publisher and co-editor of The Hill City Times, Logback will be on hand Sunday taking photos and writing about the presentation.
The quilt patterns, which are provided by the non-profit Quilts of Valor program, have been different for every quilt the Hill City group has made, making each one unique. Each quilt is 60 inches by 80 inches, made with high-quality fabric and patriotic designs and colors.
The stitchers started with a $5,000 grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, Logan. When that money ran out, they operated on donations to buy their fabric and supplies.
Besides veterans, they’ve presented quilts to members of the Kansas National Guard.
“Each job in the military is very important, no matter what it is,” Davis said.
And quilts have even gone to non-veterans. One of those was for Rick Lee Triplett, 62, who died Oct. 22. The Hill City resident was a regular among the quilters.
“We want to honor him,” Davis said. “He could quilt and he enjoyed doing it. He helped with the ones that we’re presenting on Sunday.”
Davis has a history of veterans in her own family, including a grandfather who fought in the Civil War, her father, who served in World War I, two brothers and a sister who served in World War II, and nephews in Vietnam.
At 77, Davis says it’s time for her to hang up her needle and thimble to attend to family plans with her 80-year-old husband.
“We had a mission,” Davis said of the quilting project. “And we think we’ve accomplished the mission.”