Over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten to know quilter, June Thompson of Monroe, Indiana quite well. She has shared her personal, church, and charitable quilt projects with me. Since this article would be published close to the 4th of July, I called her to ask if I could share her life and work and she enthusiastically agreed.
June was a “war baby” born in October 1945; the first child with five more to follow. As a young girl she remembered after putting her younger children to bed her mom would either crochet, sew clothes, or sometimes she would see her piecing quilt blocks together. It would not be until later in life, that June realized once the quilt frame went up, this was her mom’s answer to therapy: six kids, go figure!
June’s first experience with sewing was making clothes for herself and her daughter. As June recalls, “Sometimes I’d want to sit down with my mom at that quilt frame and quilt, but I knew I wouldn’t be good enough.” It wasn’t until decades later, when getting ready to retire, that she pursued quilting. Her first quilts were simple, a “turn 20” design that she made for each of her kids and grandkids for Christmas 2005.
One day, June found a pattern for a small tissue holder at her local quilt shop, and she thought they would make perfect gifts. The first tissue holders were often given to people at the Cancer Center and friends. June heard of a Memorial Day tribute taking place through her friend Aleta Weiss. The annual tribute takes place at Altea and her husband Bill’s flooring store/ military museum in Willshire, Ohio. The military half includes 166 military uniforms, photos of the men who wore them and their information. Bill serves as secretary of Honor Flight Northeast Indiana and Aleta is on the Board of Directors. June passed out 40 tissue holders at the tribute where they were so appreciated, that she decided to make them for the veterans on the honor flights using only patriotic fabrics. June started with the goal four years ago to have at least one hundred tissue holders for each flight.
Fast forward to today. With the help of her church friend Lynette, she is closing in on number 2000! Once made, Aleta picks them up and adds them to the veteran’s goodie bags. One can only imagine how emotional it is for the veterans as they visit monuments and sites that bring back memories of their wartime service. Thanks to June and her friends, they have a tissue at the ready. June includes a North Adams Church of Christ calling card imprinted with “Where Families Grow Strong”, the minister’s name, and contact information. Some veterans have sent appreciation notes to the church that Minister Jim Vogelwede Jr. will tack up on the church bulletin board for all to read.
Born Again Quilts has become a resource for June and her project. June found BAQ while searching for reproduction fabrics to create a vintage looking quilt for her granddaughter. June asked her daughter Jackie, who lives in Fort Wayne, to scope out the fabric shops here. Jackie came across BAQ and since it was on the south side of Fort Wayne it would make for an easy drive. Not only did June find the perfect quilt fabric: she also went home with enough remnants to make 80 tissue holders. June has the knack of taking the smallest pieces of fabric and creating something unique with them. Like her mom, quilting and giving to others have become June’s therapy. Daughter Jackie comically refers to it as her mother’s “12-Step program” as hardly a month goes by that Jackie isn’t in BAQ picking up her mom’s latest fabric load.
From starting life as a WW II war baby and now giving back to our veterans, June Thompson, in her own simple way, has found a way to express her thanks, one tissue holder at a time.
Lois Levihn is the owner of Born Again Quilts restoration studio and vintage textile haven. If you have a textile story to share, contact her at 260-515-9446 or email@example.com