In Loving Memory
Vashon Sewing Retreat Founder
(Oct. 5, 1920 - Nov. 15, 2008)
Lorraine Kimmel was the instigator of the Vashon Island Sewing Retreat. Having a passion for sewing all her life and having owned the Plaza Fabrics store on Vashon Island, she became a founding board member of the Seattle Chapter of the American Sewing Guild. She talked the Sewing Guild into sponsoring a sewing retreat on Vashon Island, but before the first retreat in 1984, a change in the Guild’s national policy caused the Seattle Chapter to disband. Lorraine kept the retreat alive by personally taking over the project. Shortly there after, Lorraine brought Camp Burton in as a co-sponsor. Over the years since then, many retreat instructors and attendees have pitched in to make the retreat the cooperative effort it is today. Gradually Lorraine handed the directorship over to her daughter Penny. We will miss her greatly.
Lorraine had a flare for colors and styles, sewing her own clothes from an early age. Later, she concentrated on crafts, dolls and quilt projects, combining flashy new fabrics with the colorful stash left over from the closing of her fabric store, which she owned with her sister-in-law Sally. She was an active member of both the doll and quilting clubs on Vashon, plus part of a small group of island sewers who make hundreds of lap quilts for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center patients. She will always be known for her unusual soft sculptures which she sold on consignment and her colorful, indivudulal sweatshirt jackets, that she wore everywhere.
More About Lorraine Kimmel from the Vashon Beachcomber.
Lorraine with big sister Jean
Lorraine High School Graduate
Lorraine & Chuck - 1940
Lorraine on Chuck's car
The New Store - early 1960s
Lorraine had told her children that she wanted to be buried in a simple pine casket decorated with flowers, so when her children, Mike, Jim and Penny, saw the casket they knew it would be perfect painted with flowers. Lisa, the funeral director, who had know Lorraine all her life and whose mother had worked as a checker at Lorraine’s store, said she had never heard of anyone doing that before but why not. Penny’s friend Kari said she knew how to draw flowers. That was all Penny needed to get started calling her mom’s friends and daughters-in-law. Bettie surprised Penny by having Kathy’s daughter Marty cater the event.
Attendees broke out the bottle of wine about 6 pm, Bettie lit a candle and everyone ate supper. Priscilla brought Lorraine’s favorite drink, scotch, then all headed to the casket room. They analyzed the “canvas”. Barb and Sue started the decoupage. Bettie started at one end putting her heart felt memories into her painting. The quilters chose red and black quilt blocks and Toodie made the patterns. Kari and Penny watched, overwhelmed by how it was just happening. Kathy added the hearts; Kari added the vines on the flowered decoupage. The bottom end of the casket was empty. Kari said it needed high tops tennis, so Penny did it. Somehow everyone felt that Lorraine was orchestrating everything.
It was a healing experience for all of them as they all loved Lorraine so very much. It was so important to come together and do this in love - a very red tent gathering.
Lorraine was buried in her wild pants and her pink high top tennis, with her flower purse and her hand work. She was also wearing Priscilla's hat and the cap that Jace had custom made for her was by her side. She was wrapped in the quilt Celeste made for her at the 2000 Sewing Retreat and was surrounded by the wonderful dolls made by her quilting friends.
In Lorraine’s eightieth year, she was not feeling up to going to her quilting retreat. Her quilting friends from around western Washington were worried about her and each one of them made a doll. Not being doll makers, they created wonderful folk art dolls out of whatever they had.
With loving memories, we are taveling with you.
Dear Vashon Sewing Retreaters,
Sending you all a group hug for everything and all the support you have given me and mom during her brief illness. I was also amazed at how many of you were able to come to her Celebration of Life party. I know getting to Vashon is not an easy thing.
How you all organized and surprised me with the American Heroes Quilts was truly amazing. The gals that worked on all those (22) quilts - the Sewers were: Hanne, Pat Chubb, Janice Gow, Carol Cubilie, Celeste Delostrinos, Leslie Edwards-Hill, Francie Thomas, Marlys and Dirk Powell, Mary Hoagland-Scher, Barley Roth (from Nevada!), Charlotte Key and Cheryl Scheeler. Other contributors were: Ellie Roush, Judy Jones (from Selah!), Ann Becker, Cheryl Tolbert, and Mary-London Elred. Hopefully, I didn’t leave anyone out. You gals truly did a very meaningful honor all round!
I suspect that Mother Superior was whispering in your ear that the American Heroes Quilt project needed help. Their monthly request for quilts has risen as word has gotten out that they were doing this for Madigan Hospital and other places felt slighted. I don’t know how Sue Nebeker is handling this demand. I just wish there weren’t any wounded soldiers or war. If wishes were horses we would all ride away from this ugly reality.
Thank you, Margret-Ann for your check to the American Heroes, I’m sending it to Sue today.
And a big thanks to Ellie for putting up with the bossy me (I put her to work). I was totally flabbergasted when some of the wenches (High School Classmates) and Ellie helped with set-up of the party. I had arranged for Camp Burton to let people stay there Saturday night to make it easier on them for convenience of travel and fellowship. I had no idea that they had plan to help. I am indebted for Life. Ellie I hope the wenches didn’t corrupt you. You know those Pirates!
Other who helped unbelievably were Barb Trenary, Toodie (Marie Blichfeldt) and Pat Caughell. Mom’s good buddies that really helped pull it all together. We wouldn’t have had some of her creations around without them and for the emotional support through all of this .
A special shout out to Kathy Pierce for agreeing without hesitation to speak at the Celebration (that takes a lot of guts!) and for organizing the Saturday Luncheon and the overnight wenches (Pam Dawson, Kathy Mullins, LeeAnn Fordice who came from N. Carolina). To keep people close to your heart that you have known most of your life is truly a blessing! Thank you so much Kathy.
In this age when everything is instant and disposable it is beautiful when people are there for you. I never realized the power of friendship. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Love to all,