The St. Clair Times

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December 19, 2014

Her stitches go back in time

Beverly Burch: Inspired by the past, a grandmother she remembers

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Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2014 7:48 pm

Beverly Burch remembers as a small girl looking at a quilt given to her mom made by her great-grandmother. 

“My great grandmother was Rebecca Shaffer McGee, but everyone called her ‘Bobo,’” Burch said. “She was of German-Irish decent, a midwife for the county and came from a very large family. She made quilts for every one of her grandchildren – and there were a lot. She had 13 children and then those 13 children had about the same number of kids themselves.”

Burch said she does not remember when her mother received the quilt from McGee, but remembers seeing it as a child. Her great-grandmother lived to be almost 100-years-old, and Burch remembers when she was in her 90s she was still making quilts.

“It was the Lone Star quilt and sometimes they called it the Star of Bethlehem,” Burch said. “It had a red background and the center was just a burst of many colors.”

Burch said seeing that quilt as a child gave her a desire in the back of her mind to one day make quilts.

“I do not know what the trigger was, but in 1986, I just decided I was going to make a quilt,” Burch said. “I was 32 years old. I told myself I could not afford to buy other peoples’ quilts, and that I wanted to make my own.”

Burch said she does not necessarily make her quilts for beds, but mainly for art pieces. She has quilts hanging on the walls of every room of her house and a quilt on every bed. She has names for all of her quilts.

Burch has become very active in Alabama quilting community. She was one of the co-founders of the Heart of Dixie Quilt Guild and was president of the organization for five years. She was also on the founding board of Quilt Alabama.

After a bout with lung cancer, Burch stepped back from the quilting community for a few years. Burch said she was first diagnosed with lung cancer at age 28.

“There was a period of about five years when we lived in Knoxville that I had all my quilting material in storage because I was very sick,” Burch said. 

After five years of not quilting at all, the first quilt she made after that she called “Rebirth,” and now she and her husband, Reggie, are considering having an online quilt business.

“To me, quilting is relaxing,” Burch said. “It’s so peaceful. I have taught others and they find it so soothing. Over the course of my life, I have probably made about 75 quilts.”

Even though she taught herself how to quilt, Burch is an award-winning quilter and has judged a lot of quilt shows as well.

Burch knows without a doubt that her great grandmother would be very proud of her today.

“Bobo left a legacy of quilts,” Burch said.

It’s a legacy she is proud to be living up to. 

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