A Day Of Solace Shadowed

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Saturday was to be a day of special solace for the family of Maj. Troy Gilbert. The Rim Country women of the DPS Quilt Angels of the Arizona Quilters Guild delivered six quilts to Gilbert's widow, Ginger and their five children.

The quilts were specially made at the family's request, incorporating pieces of the fighter pilot's shirts so his children, who are between the ages of 9 and 1, would have something of his to remember him by.

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The DPS Quilt Angels put together six memory quilts using the shirts of Maj. Troy Gilbert, who was killed in Iraq last November. The quilts were requested by Gilbert's widow, Ginger.

This beautiful gesture, meant to provide comfort for Ginger Gilbert and her children was marred by the posting of a video on the Web showing a body in an Air Force uniform. A group linked to al-Qaida reportedly made the tape. Officials confirmed the body in the video was that of Gilbert.

Gilbert was killed last November. The journey of the memory quilts for his family started in December.

A friend of his widow, acquainted with the daughter of Gloria Fohr, one of the DPS Quilt Angels, heard of Ginger Gilbert's desire to have memory quilts made for her children, using pieces of her husband's clothing. Fohr's daughter volunteered her mother and Fohr brought the DPS Quilt Angels into the project.

Ginger Gilbert sent the Quilt Angels four huge tubs of her husband's clothing, including military uniforms and flight suits. She also sent the quilters Bible verses she hoped could be included on the memory quilts. The clothing arrived in January and the group started sorting it out, picking what they could use in the quilts and then taking the shirts apart and pulling off the cloth medals, patches and embellishments from the military clothing, to use in the finished products.

The 12 women and one girl, 9, involved in the project, also put together the complementary fabrics and selected special backing material for the quilts.

"We all shed a lot of tears as we made these quilts," Fohr said.

Even after months of work, as they talked about the project and displayed the quilts for a visiting teacher from the Arizona Quilters Guild, the women became teary-eyed.

"We all felt so close to him and his family," Willene Smith, another of the Quilt Angels, said.

Ginger Gilbert had only asked for memory quilts for her children. The Quilt Angels decided she needed one too and called their special quilt for her "Wrapped In Love" -- it features a beautiful design of rich red roses and a panel printed with the "Footsteps in the Sand" poem.

In addition to Fohr and Smith, the DPS Quilt Angels includes B.J. Voakes, Earline Eldridge, Nancy Houghton, Thelma Anderson, Betty Osberg, Joan Wise, Sandra Gill, Colleen McLoud, Joanne Moss, Sharie Ambrey, Wanda Harp, Jinny Kost, Brenda Plaster, Katie Calderon, Debbie Kattleman, Donna Flansberg and Faith Anne Hall.

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