Georgia Gist of Owensboro has been taking her homemade quilts to Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Kentucky since 2014, donating more than 100 quilts for patients.
Gist said she made her first quilt of valor for her brother-in-law who served in the Vietnam War.
Following that, she said she made them for other people in her life, including her hairdresser who served, nieces in honor of her brother who serves, as well as for veterans at her church.
Eventually, she decided she wanted to begin donating quilts to hospice following the passing of her father who had to stay in an assisted living facility after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
“Those people get cold and it’s nice to have something cozy and a lot of them use it when they pass away, they use them on the coffin,” she said.
After some time, the hospice facility asked if she would be able to donate quilts of valor to honor patients who are veterans.
“The past couple of years, they’ve asked me to just do these types of quilts because they never have enough,” she said.
One of her quilts, she said, was also featured along with the patient who received it in a hospice commercial.
Gist was not always so invested in quilting, however.
She said she made her first quilt in 1965, utilizing a very difficult pattern for beginners, called the “improved 9-patch.”
“It was really hard. You think of 9-patch, it’s just nine squares, but this one had curves,” she said. “With a scalloped edge and all these circles, that is a terrible thing to put a beginning quilter on.”
The quilt, with a purple and gold color scheme inspired by her high school colors, remains folded up in a closet in her home.
After completing her first quilt, Gist said she “put the quilting away for a long time.”
That is, until her mother bought her a cross-stitch quilting kit while she was in school at Kentucky Wesleyan College.
She said she worked on the quilt for some years in her spare time and while she was in the hospital having her child, finally completing it in 1987.
Gist said she did not really get into quilting until around 2000 after retiring from her teaching job.
She opened her own quilt shop in 2009 and business almost immediately took off.
“From there, it just kept going,” she said. “We were really busy. I was quilting for people as well and I was quilting over 500 quilts a year — a lot of quilts.”
At one point, Gist said she had her son’s old room lined up with around 25 to 30 quilts waiting to be completed and had more than 1,000 bolts of fabric.
In recent years, however, Gist said she has downsized quite a bit.
Downsizing, however, still includes an entire room dedicated to assembling quilts and a room full of supplies, all organized by color.
“I’ve enjoyed it, but it’s a lot,” she said. “I guess I still have a little home business and then I have a store at the antique mall and I make and donate quilts of valor to my church and hospice.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, she said she was “churning out” quilts for hospice with so many church groups who donated not meeting in person for a
period of time.
However, she said she enjoys doing the work and feels honored to do something for hospice patients in their final days.
“It makes me sort of happy that I can do something for them,” she said. “I’ve received a bunch of notes from people. It’s really nice and they really appreciate it … it adds a little bit of comfort when you’re in that kind of situation.”
Christie Netherton, cnetherton @messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7360