Monday, November 19, 2007

Miss Mary Showalter, Valley quilter, passes away....

Miss Mary Virginia Showalter passed away Saturday, just two days shy of her 93rd birthday. She was the last survivor of the three quilting Showalter sisters from Stuarts Draft in Augusta County.

For years the Showalter sisters ... Anna, Laura, and Mary ... crafted quilts that fetched the highest price at the Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale ... a total of 223 quilts. Throughout the years Valley folks would watch to see how high the price would go for those intricate, exquisitely-handmade quilts that helped raise money for Mennonite mission work around the world.

After Anna and Laura passed away, Mary continued to sew by staying active in her church sewing circle, a group that also provided a quilt each year for the relief sale.

Miss Showalter was born November 19, 1914, one of nine children born to Amos Henry and Lillie Harriet Suter Showalter. Her brother, Truman, is the sole survivor of the siblings.

Miss Showalter helped others all her life. In her youth she spent a significant number of years in mission work in the Kentucky mountains, and was later employed at Western State Hospital in Staunton.

Her legacy is the quilts and, with her death, a chapter closes on the history of the Valley. She will be laid to rest in the cemetery of the church where she was so active for so many years.

The annual Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale, begun on the Wenger farm in Stuarts Draft in the 1960s, was formerly held at Expoland in Fishersville but outgrew that location and moved in 1999 to the Rockingham Fairgrounds. Held the first weekend in October, over 1,000 people are involved in crafts, food, and preparation for the event, and over $3 million has been raised.

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