KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — Stitching, padding, and layers of fabric are what can be seen and felt when touching a quilt, but the colors and patterns in combination with the effort and gratitude symbolize much more.

When seven former members of the Armed Forces of the United States were called upon by members of the Rainy Day Quilt Guild June 15 in the Honey-Do Lounge at the Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 3113, they were met with applause from the community followed by a token of appreciation, a “Quilt of Valor,” for the lifelong sacrifices they have made for their country.

Since its first delivery in 2003, the Quilts of Valor Foundation has honored over 220,000 veterans with a “Quilt of Valor.” And since the introduction of the project in 2017 in Ketchikan, Ketchikan’s own Rainy Day Quilt Guild have patterned, stuffed, stitched, and distributed 69 “Quilts of Valor” to war veterans in the surrounding area.

The guild has honored veterans with “Quilts of Valor” already at two events in the past year, and had to add Saturday’s event due to the growing number of nominations for potential recipients.

“This one we added this year because we have so many vets, and we want to make sure to get as many of them covered with our quilts as we can,” said Rainy Day Quilt Guild member Jean Mackie.

This round of recipients included veterans Claude “Stretch” Zimmerle, Jim Amos, Norman Alsup, Dwight Lindemann, Dennis Spurgeon, Ken Decker, and Harry James Diamond.


Dick Madden, who’s wife Judy Madden is a Rainy Day Quilt Guild quilter, started the event with a personalized attention getter.

“Veterans, guests, quilters. Can you hear me in the back?” Madden asked the gathering.

Madden reiterated the history and mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation. He explained that a Quilt of Valor is not a charity quilt. That it’s an award to honor those who have served. That it is priceless. That it can never be bought and never be sold.

Rainy Day Quilt Guild member Wende Stidd announced the name of each veteran, which cued them to come forward. Mackie held onto one corner of the quilt and handed the other corner to the receiving veteran, which allowed the quilt’s patterns to flow and the colors to reflect. The watching crowd’s oohs, aahs and wows were met with a warm thank you from each vet, but the quilters were just as appreciative.

“It’s a good feeling, something tangible that we can do. It’s a way to say thank you,” said Mackie in response to a thank you from Kathy Spurgeon, who is the wife of veteran Dennis Spurgeon.

In addition to the seven vets honored at the VFW, three more veterans, who were unable to attend the event, were hand delivered a “Quilt of Valor” by a Rainy Day Quilt Guild quilter. One was delivered to veteran Carl Schenk at his residence in town and the others were delivered to veterans James McKellar and Robert Smith, who reside at Ketchikan Pioneer’s Home.

The next “Quilts of Valor” event will be on Veterans Day at the American Legion.


Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News,