Lorraine Kimmel

Lorraine Kimmel
Founder of the
Vashon Island
Sewing Retreat


In Loving Memory
Lorraine Kimmel
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.

Mother Superior
We'll always remember her as "Mother Superior"
Click here for Mother Superior and
Other Lorraine Stories from Retreaters.


Baby Lorraine
Baby Lorraine with big sister Jean

Lorraine 8th Grade
Lorraine in 8th Grade

Wives in Waiting
Vashon Wives in Waiting Club

Chuck & Lorraine
Chuck & Lorraine

Lorraine & Penny
Lorraine with Penny

Lorraine at Work
Lorraine, at work at the Store


Lorraine in the 60s
Lorraine in the 1960s

Lorraine Portrait
Lorraine in the 1960s


Lorraine & Dell
1969 - Lorraine marries Dell

1970's with the Grandkids
Lorraine with grandchildren in the 1970s

Lorraine takes on the Sewing Retreat
Lorraine takes on the Sewing Retreat

Lorraine & her dolls
Lorraine & her Dolls

Lorraine & her alter ego
Presented by Penny from the Sew Retreaters ...

80th Birthday Cake
80th Birthday surprise ...

Making Hero Quilts
Making Hero Quilts

Riding the Golf Cart
Keeping on the go

Penny & Lorraine at Home
Penny & Lorraine at home with the dolls

Jace & Lorraine
Lorraine dwarfed by Penny's son Jace

Her last Hero Quilt
Lorraine's last Hero Quilt - started at the Mini

Lorraine's story on YouTube


Lorraine & her sister Jean
Lorraine with big sister Jean

Loraine High School Grad
Lorraine High School Graduate


Lorraine & Chuck
Lorraine & Chuck - 1940

Lorraine sitting on Car
Lorraine on Chuck's car

Lorraine's Children
Lorraine's Children


The Store
The New Store - early 1960s

Lorraine in the 60s
Lorraine in the 1960s

Lorraine speaking to Grocery Association
Speaking to the Grocery Association

Lorraine in Hawaii
Lorraine in Hawaii - 1970s

Lorraine at Penny's wedding
Lorraine at Penny's wedding in1985

Lorraine in Charge
Lorraine's in Charge

Lorraine & her quilts
Lorraine & her Quilts

Lorraine & her alter ego
Lorraine & her alter ego

a Birthday Surprise
Makes for a good laugh

Receiving Quilts
and receiving a quilt from Celeste

85th Birthday
85th Birthday

Teachers Planning Retreat Teachers' Planning Retreat - Jan 2006


Lorraine & Penny
Lorraine & Penny at the 2008 Mini Retreat


Hero Quilt assembled
Completed at the 2008 Fall Retreat

Click here to see more American Hero Quilts
made by Lorraine's Vashon Retreaters.

Lorraine Kimmel - You'll Always be smiling in our Hearts

The Casket Party…

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 2007
Lorraine Kimmel

Painting the Casket
Loving hands and Paint

Penny finishing the end
Penny adds the finishing touch ...

Going in Style
The Casket Painting Party
Here's to you Lorraine

Painting the Casket
Decoupage & Quilt Squares

Pink Tennis Shoes
Pink Tennis Shoes at your toes

The Party Farewell
These many friends have made sure
that you'll go in style
and that you'll never be alone.

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.

The dolls…

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. 

Handmade Dolls for Lorraine
With loving memories, we are taveling with you.

The Memorial Serive at Camp Burton on January 25, 2009…

Display at Memorial Service

And you'll never be forgotten
because of all the wonderful things
you have made and shared with
the rest of us left behind.

Memorial Service
Memorial Service January 25, 2009 at Camp Burton

Muriel, Carolyn, Cheryl & Barbara
Retreaters Attending

Barb & Hanne
Retreaters Attending

Hero Quilts by the Vashon Sewers
Hero Quilts in Honor of Lorraine
made by Vashon Sewing Retreaters
Display at Memorial Service

Penny now takes the lead
Penny Presiding

Carol & Priscilla
Retreaters Attending

Marilee,   ,  Charlotte
Retreaters Attending

Hero Quilts by the Vashon Sewers
Hero Quilts in Honor of Lorraine
made by Vashon Sewing Retreaters

Click here to see more American Hero Quilts
made by Lorraine's Vashon Retreaters.

Send your Lorraine stories to Penny and
we will publish them here to share with everyone.

A Letter from Lorraine's daughter Penny…

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 . 


Lorraine at Rest
Lorraine Kimmel - At Rest

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,
Penn