Maple Crest resident JoAnn Hilty may not have worked her fingers to the bone, but she does have a few bumps on them from years of “knotting” comforters. A talented quilter and flower arranger, Hilty is a Pandora “city girl” who moved with her husband to a dairy farm near Bluffton at age 18.
“I didn’t know a thing about farming,” Hilty laughed, “but I found out soon enough why Arthur was always late for our dates. Farming is hard work. There were cows to milk, calves to feed and chores to finish.”
Although she didn’t attend college, Hilty became educated in many of the old arts and credits her love of nature and the outdoors for her successful transition to becoming a farm wife. Today, she is the unofficial flower-arranger for many of Maple Crest’s special events, and her three children and 11 grandchildren all own quilts with patterns such as Golden Pineapple, Cathedral Windows, and Dahlia. She admits that quilting is almost an obsession with her. As previously mentioned, she has also hand-knotted many comforters, but dismisses them as “just comforters.” Quilts are her true passion.
JoAnn said that when she was a young wife, she immediately discovered that certain work on the farm was only for men and then there was “women’s work.” She cooked, cleaned and raised three children, but managed to talk Arthur into teaching her how to drive the tractor.
“That way, I could drive while the men baled hay,” she added. “When it came to milking cows, though, my husband put his foot down. I never did the milking.”
From Farm to Maple Crest
When doctors diagnosed Arthur with a serious illness, the couple left the farm and moved to Maple Crest in 2009. Arthur didn’t want JoAnn to have to manage a business, repair equipment and care for livestock by herself. They packed up their 14-room farmhouse and didn’t look back.
“When we first moved to Maple Crest, we had a large apartment,” Hilty remembered. “After Arthur passed away, I moved into a smaller unit. It has a patio door that’s near the parking lot and my grandchildren and great-grandchildren use it as their own entrance.”
Hilty is a walking commercial for Maple Crest, stating that it’s become her home and she loves every aspect of her independent living situation.
“This is not a nursing home,” she stated. “This is independent living. I have all the freedom of my own house without the worries. I feel like I’m taken care of. We all do.”
Growing up in a family of six children, JoAnn was also brought up with roses. She says that her son Bob must have inherited her love of flowers and nature, although son Mike is now the fifth generation to live on the family farm. Hilty is proud of her large extended family which also includes 20 great-grandchildren. They have consistently been the first prize winner for having the most family members participating in Maple Crest’s annual Fishing Derby.
According to recent studies, quilting and other traditional arts are increasing in popularity as millennials yearn for tactile experiences to slow down the pace of life. Hilty admits that “it takes ages to finish a quilt.” In addition to valued family gifts, she has also given many comforters to her church.
“I quilt ‘til I don’t know any better,” she laughed, rubbing the bumps on her fingers.