At 101, woman donates beloved family quilts to benefit church group
Anna Bricker held the threadbare 48-state quilt that once served not only as a bedspread but a geography lesson for her children.
Now at 101, Anna has no need for the quilt or several others that have been handed down from her family and the family of her late husband, Clark Bricker. She decided to donate the quilts, which will be auctioned off or raffled at 11 a.m. July 14 at First Presbyterian Church, 2415 Clinton Parkway.
“They are my heirlooms,” Anna said.
Though she doesn’t know the age of the 48-state quilt, it had to have been made more than 60 years ago, before Alaska and Hawaii became states in 1959. Each block of the quilt contains an abbreviation of a state and its official flower.
Another antique quilt she donated, “Trip Around the World,” has become soft from wear. It was created by Clark’s great-grandmother, possibly as early as the mid-1850s.
A lifetime quilt lover, Anna never acquired the talent for the craft.
“I tried, but my stitches were too big,” she said.
Her children have inherited the quilts they wanted, and Bricker, who lives at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor, decided to pass the others along to someone who might appreciate them.
Anna was born in 1918 in Pennsylvania’s York County. Her father and uncles owned the Seiling Furniture Factory in the tiny town of Railroad Borough, where they manufactured bedroom furniture.
Anna and Clark, her future husband, grew up together.
“My mother took me to see him when he was a baby,” Anna said. “I was 17 days older than he was.”
Once they were adults and engaged, the only date that would work for a wedding was Dec. 25, 1942. Clark was a chemist by then at Princeton University. World War II was raging and he was busy working on the Manhattan Project, which was researching and developing the background for the production of the first nuclear weapons.
“They gave him three days off for Christmas,” she said.
A highlight for Anna during those early years in Princeton was catching a glimpse of renowned physicist Albert Einstein walking past their home.
“Einstein would go by our apartment every morning,” she said. “He walked by himself usually with his hands behind his back. That was really the neatest thing in Princeton,” where Einstein was a resident scholar.
As a professor of analytical chemistry, Clark Bricker remained at Princeton until 1961. The Brickers moved to Lawrence in 1963 for Clark to join the faculty at the University of Kansas, where he remained until his retirement in 1983. He died in 1994.
“We knew there would be a value in the eight quilts she donated to Presbyterian Women,” said Carol Kyner, who is helping organize the auction and raffle, which are open to the public. Some of the older quilts have value as antiques, of course, but the quilts also display quality handwork, artistry and nice colors, Kyner said.
Proceeds from the sale will go to support the community outreach for Presbyterian Women.
“We’re so thankful that Anna thought of Presbyterian Women. She had been a longtime member of our church group,” Kyner said. “She’s our benefactor.”