Great Quilting Friends: Rita, The Matriarch

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Rita Hildred

Rita Hildred

Quilt made by Rita

Quilt made by Rita

I belong to a fabulous quilt group and we call ourselves the UFO-ers. The group has been in existence since the early 1990’s and is still going strong today. We meet the third Saturday of every month for a potluck lunch and as much sewing as we can get done in a day. The UFO group consists of friends from various walks of life however, the backbone of our group is the Hildred family and their mother, Rita. Rita was the matriarch of her huge family for decades and matriarch of our quilting group for the last 25+ years but sadly she passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 93. She lived a good life full of fun, farming and family. She will be greatly missed but her legacy lives on through her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, her friends and her quilts.

Rita and Pete

Rita and Pete

Rita was born in 1928 and was one of eight kids. She married her husband Pete Hildred in 1946 and started a family of her own. Rita would go on to raise 6 children (Judy, Linda, Beckie, Steve, John and Don) while she was overseeing the family farm in Laporte, CO and later in life she became a nurse. I met Rita in 2009 when I joined the UFO group. I also met Judy, Linda and Beckie (her daughters), Ginger and Ann (her daughters-in-law), and Stephanie (her granddaughter) all of whom quilt. In subsequent years, some of the younger Hildreds became quilters as well. Rachel, Rita’s great-granddaughter and Lisa and Jesslyn two more granddaughters also took up quilting and have joined our group. We have had 10 Hildreds in our quilting group!

Hildred Family 2016

Hildred Family 2016

Some of the UFO-ers on a mountain retreat – 7 Hildreds and 4 “others”

Some of the UFO-ers on a mountain retreat – 7 Hildreds and 4 “others”

I call the Hildred family the backbone of our quilting group not only because there’s so many of them but because of the incredible family that they are. The entire family is of jack-of-all-trades. If you need information about something, ask a Hildred – someone in the family will know the answer. If you need to borrow something, ask a Hildred – someone in the family will have it and loan it to you. If you need help, ask a Hildred – they will find someone in the family to help you.

it was the Hildred’s who came throughI moved out of state briefly and when I moved back, I needed to find a new place to live in Denver. The city has been booming in recent years and rent prices have skyrocketed. I couldn’t afford anything I was finding. So I put out an all-points bulletin to the quilting group asking for help finding a place to live. Of course, it was the Hildred’s who came through. Ginger talked to Jesslyn whose grandparents own a rental property and the next thing you know I’m living in the perfect little house, my dogs have a great backyard to play in and I have a view of the mountains from my sewing room windows! All thanks to the Hildred clan.

Now I don’t want to discount the Hildred men here. I just don’t know them as intimately as I do the women. However, I do know that among them, they own ALL tools know to man and they know how to use them. Though I am quite the DIY-er myself, I own only a limited number of tools. So whenever I need something done that exceeds my skill level or my tool collection, I call on the Hildred men. Luckily Steve lives close to me so he’s my main go-to guy and has helped me with numerous projects over the years including drilling holes in all of my rulers so that I could hang them, welding broken Christmas decorations and cutting odd-sized planks for a patio table that I was refurbishing.

rulers patio table

I credit Rita with raising such a kind, thoughtful, generous and creative family, as she herself was all of these things. When I was looking for some good photos for this blog, I realized that nearly all of my photos of the Hildreds involve sewing! Rita passed down the quilting bug through three generations of her family. She was the eldest member of our quilting group with her great-granddaughter, Rachel, being the youngest. And those who don’t quilt, paint. Or cook, or blacksmith or build things, etc.

Ann staging a Log Cabin quilt top

Ann staging a Log Cabin quilt top

Lisa and Jesslyn arranging a quilt top

Lisa and Jesslyn arranging a quilt top

 Ginger with her Christmas quilt

Ginger with her Christmas quilt

Rachel with a table runner she had just completed

Rachel with a table runner she had just completed

Beckie sewing at retreat

Beckie sewing at retreat

Gina Hildred painting

Gina Hildred painting

Rita and Judy having fun at retreat

Rita and Judy having fun at retreat

In late 2011, the UFO-ers decided that we wanted to do a round robin in which each person participating would have a completed quilt top by the beginning of 2014. We decided to make it a blind round robin with very few rules. We began in January of 2012 with each person bringing in a block that they had made. That block was immediately passed on to the next person on the rotation list. That person then had 2 months to add to the block and then it got passed to the next person. Most of us started with a center medallion block and each participant then added a border around the medallion. All the while, no one got to see their quilt in progress once they handed in their initial block. In January of 2014 we had the big reveal – no one had any idea what their own quilt would look like until they got it back! All of the quilts turned out beautifully and all participants were extremely happy with the end results. I started my quilt with a hand-appliqued block in the center and was so happy to have my friends all contribute to the quilt. In particular, I was ecstatic to have Rita add to my quilt. She (along with her daughter-in-law Ann) added the border with the large circles. Now I will have a little part of Rita with me forever – and of course, all of the other Hildreds who contributed to my quilt as well.

Anissa's Round Robin made by Anissa Arnold, Lois Lenorovitz, Jamee Chambers, Claudia Kniffin, Barbara Ward, Jeanne Redmond, Jackie Arnold, Sue Oswalt, Judy Hildred, Ann Baker-Hildred, Ginger Hildred and Rita Hildred.

Anissa’s Round Robin made by Anissa Arnold, Lois Lenorovitz, Jamee Chambers, Claudia Kniffin, Barbara Ward, Jeanne Redmond, Jackie Arnold, Sue Oswalt, Judy Hildred, Ann Baker-Hildred, Ginger Hildred and Rita Hildred.

Rita's Mass

Rita’s Mass

Many members of our group attended the mass for Rita last week and her family asked us all to bring a quilt that Rita had worked on to drape over the back of the pews. It was a very touching gesture and it flooded her fellow quilters with great memories and stories to tell. Last Saturday we had our first monthly get together without Rita and it was sad, however, we all know how privileged and fortunate we were to have had Rita in our lives. I have a great bevy of friends and fantastic women in my quilting group and we are all lucky to have each other. And Rita will continue to be a part of the UFO-ers in spirit and in our fond memories of her.

With warm thoughts~
Anissa

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