Quilts on the Willapa Aug. 1-2

Staff


By ELLEN HERNANDEZ

One of Willapa Harbor Quilters' own members will be the featured quilter at the Aug. 1-2 Quilts on the Willapa show in Raymond. The show will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 1 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 2, at Raymond High School.

Dorothy Bale Gruginski grew up in Baleville, where she helped her mother in the kitchen in preparing meals for a large family of males, plus farmhands. Her father, George Bale, was widely known as a carpenter, and Dorothy must have learned well from him, as rumor has it that she did most of the interior work in the home that she and Walt Gruginski built. 

Two of Walt's nephews, John and Kennie Gruginski, came to live with them, and as the boys grew into men, they were often referred to as Dorothy's sons. She is fond of saying she lives only about two miles from where she was born and grew up, but that doesn't begin to tell the impact Dorothy has had on all members of her family and those fortunate enough to know her. In meeting any of the many nieces and nephews who still live in the area, they are quick to tell you that "Aunt Dorothy taught me to sew."

Her church has always been at the center of Dorothy's life, and this is reflected in some of her quilts. One quilt in particular has traveled to several churches in Pacific and Grays Harbor Counties, where members of her quilting guild have helped her narrate the Bible verses and meaning behind the names of the blocks. It is a beautifully pieced and appliqued quilt. Dorothy is an excellent public speaker, and often works in the story of meeting the "tall, dark, handsome" man who became her husband. 

In earlier days, Dorothy would hand quilt her pieced tops, but as she stitched more and more beautiful quilt tops, they were sent out to a long-arm quilter to finish. The icing on the cake was when retired teacher Arlyn Harris bought a long-arm quilt machine and learned to use it. Dorothy is such a prolific piecer that a quilt is always going to or coming back from Arlyn's house. 

Dorothy has always been available to help anyone struggling with their sewing or quilting, often having sewing days at her home where she feeds us good, hearty lunches. More than one raffle quilt started there.

When Willapa Harbor Quilters decided to make a quilt cover for a car, Dorothy was right there in the middle of it all the way from start to finish. As the rest of us were measuring and drawing patterns in a drafty building at the Pacific County Fairgrounds, Dorothy was in the middle at her sewing machine, stitching together pieces as fast as the rest of us could bring them to her. Later we would move into the Fireman's Concession building where Dorothy was set up with her machine, and we fitted the pieces on the car just outside the windows. Not once did she think we could not or should not attempt to fit a quilt to a car. This "Quilted Car" went on to be shown in parades and outside at the Raymond School during quilt shows.

Now as we prepare to honor Dorothy and the talents she has so generously shared with family and community, she has had to put out a call to her nieces and nephews to bring back some of those quilts she made for them, so the rest of us can view and enjoy them in a show.

Those quilts will be on display on the stage at the high school during the quilt show. The show is open to the public and free. Join with the Willapa Harbor Quilters, Dorothy's family and other friends in celebrating this remarkable woman's many contributions to her community.