Local Quilter Inducted In Hall Of Fame


Willene Smith (third from the right) was inducted into the Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame on Sept. 23 in a ceremony at the Tucson Marriott hotel.

Willene Smith (third from the right) was inducted into the Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame on Sept. 23 in a ceremony at the Tucson Marriott hotel. |

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Each year, Pine and Strawberry attract thousands of visitors who want to experience beauty and enjoy the great outdoors. But if you spend any time in our small towns, you’ll discover the real beauty is the people. Sit and enjoy a croissant at the Village Bakery in the Ponderosa Market, have a cup of coffee at HB’s restaurant or take a walking history tour through town. You’re sure to see some friendly smiles and some people who make this town pretty wonderful.

Quilter honored

One of the special residents of P/S is a quilter who is positive, inspiring, caring and gifted and exemplifies the spirit of the community.

Although the 78 years young, Phoenix native, told me she had no idea she was the wonderful person they were describing when inducted into the Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame, Willene Smith’s very presence and achievements prove she is all that wonderful and more.

The event to celebrate and honor the contribution of Arizonans to quiltmaking took place in Tucson on Sept. 23, inducting five remarkable women into the Class of 2012 Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame. Among the honored inductees was Willene Smith, of Strawberry, who has had a notable and profound influence on quilting at both the local and state level.

Willene’s rise to fame, the “Hall of Fame” that is, began as a young girl when her mom taught her to embroider, which commenced a lifelong love of needlework. Although an office manager for her dad’s construction firm for more than 20 years, she began working for a needlework company doing home parties and becoming an executive manager for their Arizona, New Mexico and Las Vegas branches. In 1976, the U.S. celebrated its bicentennial and 100-year-old quilts were on display. This sparked an interest in quilts that accelerated when a co-worker in the needlework company taught Willene and four other eager learners how to quilt.

If you spend any time at all with quilters, you’ll find that a passion for quilting goes hand-in-hand with compassion for others. Willene wed a police officer and has a son with the Department of Public Safety bomb squad, which opened her eyes to the plight of lost and abused children and was the catalyst that launched the DPS Quilt Angels. Since its humble beginnings 7,276 quilts have been delivered to DPS, with each officer having a story to share with Willene of how a quilt brought comfort to a suffering child. Willene gets more than a little choked up when she speaks of receiving the DPS Medal of Valor; an honor rarely bestowed on wives and mothers of DPS officers and civilians, for her vision to help the children.

Willene is also the founding member of the local Strawberry Patchers quilting group, has served as president of the Arizona Quilters Guild and helped to establish the Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame.

Willene has come full circle from an interest in quilting sparked during the U.S. bicentennial to fulfilling a dream as one of five Arizona natives to have had the honor of working on the Arizona Centennial Quilt.

Tears well up in the eyes of this humble but extraordinarily-talented quilter and humanitarian when she speaks of the joy and pride it has brought her to have provided quilts to DPS to bring comfort to traumatized children. Likewise, her involvement with the Arizona Centennial Quilt Project and to be a part of the quilting community has enriched her life beyond measure.

Willene is a shining example of the extraordinary people in P/S. She truly is some kind of wonderful.

Local students second best in the world

P/S, you can be proud. Our young people are getting worldwide recognition for a good reason!

The P/S School Builders Club, sponsored by Kiwanis Club of Zane Grey Country, placed an impressive second in a worldwide scrap book competition. Kiwanis International sponsored the competition in which clubs throughout the United States, Europe and Asia competed. Out of hundreds of entries worldwide, our students placed No. 2 in the world!

This talented group of young people have accomplished remarkable things under the leadership of Dawn Potter, P/S School faculty member and Builders Club adviser. In addition to the confidence and commitment to excellence she instills in the students, Dawn has done a great job of weaving the community component into the club experience.

We have seen examples of the caring nature of the students throughout the year. They sponsored a successful food drive at the school to benefit the P/S Food Bank and visited the Community Center’s Senior Dining Room to thank and honor seniors.

Support the students by viewing the scrapbook that earned them second best in the world. See what a world level competition scrapbook looks like on display at P/S school.

A shout out to Damien Bridges, P/S sixth-grader, who was recognized as the Kiwanis Student of the Month for September.

Trunk or Treat

It’s time for children to go trunk to trunk and collect goodies from folks who have decorated their vehicles for the spooktacular event. Trunk or Treat is a safe and fun way for children ages 2 to 12 to celebrate Halloween sponsored by Strawberry’s Elite and THAT Brewery. Kids should be at THAT Brewery in Pine by 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, to be entered in the costume contest with lots of categories, prizes and fun. Trunks are needed! Please decorate your trunk as a stopping point for all the little witches and goblins.

P/S Thrift Store

Saturday, Nov. 3 is Customer Appreciation Day at the thrift store in Pine. Come see beautiful clothing and dazzling holiday wear. There will be hourly door prizes, refreshments, and SCAF members will receive a 10 percent discount with membership card.

Happy haunting everyone! Please send your happenings to haffordjoy1@gmail.com.

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