Nancy Williamson’s two-bedroom villa in the Maple Crest Senior Living Village is bright with quilts, art, fabric, and framed swimming pool designs created by her late husband Ken. The retired nurse finally has the time to pursue her passion for sewing and other creative endeavors. Still, there’s always something on her “list.”
“My great-grandmother lived in Wapakoneta and was a quilter,” Nancy recalled. “She often gave me pieces of fabric to play with and I began sewing in elementary school.” Primarily self-taught, and focused on sewing garments, Williamson didn’t begin quilting until the birth of a great-grandson in 2013. But her skills transferred to a new technique well, so much so that she earned a first-place ribbon at this year’s Sauder Village Quilt Show in Archbold, Ohio.
A member of the Modern Quilt Guild, Nancy is still an active member of the MQG chapter in St. Louis, Missouri, her former home. Each year Pantone, a company that pioneered a standardized color reproduction system, announces its “Color of the Year” and the Guild sponsors a quilting competition featuring that color. In 2016 that color was “Greenery,” and Nancy made a piece featuring three shades of bright green and quilted it in a spiral.
Making the quilt was easy compared with trying to submit her entry, according to Williamson. “You had to enter online and were supposed to link to a picture and description of your project through your blog. Well, I don’t have a blog and it got very complicated from there. I just put the quilt away and never did send in the entry,” she said.
This spring she saw a notice that Sauder Village was looking for entries in its annual quilt contest and decided to enter a quilt she made as a “round robin” with five of her St. Louis friends, as well as “Greenery”. She knew the level of competition would be high, so she dropped off her quilts, expecting to be rejected. To her surprise, she received a call the next day informing her that the Greenery quilt had won first place in the “Small Quilt, Home Quilting Machine” category.
Nancy pieces on her sewing machine and occasionally has the actual quilting done by Forever in Stitches in downtown Bluffton. She owns some hand-quilting frames and plans to learn to hand-quilt. “It’s on the list,” she added.
Maple Crest Works for Her
Originally from Spencerville, Ohio, Williamson became an RN and moved to St. Louis in 1971. Working in a variety of clinical and administrative positions at Deaconess Hospital, she was Director of Nursing for Staffing and Resources when she retired in 1996. Subsequently, she worked with her husband Ken, a swimming pool architect, taught sewing at a local fabric store, sewed samples and did shows for an independent pattern company in San Francisco, and made costumes for three theaters, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, St. Louis Opera Theatre, and the St. Louis Muny in Forest Park.
Nancy’s mother, Jane Seibert, also lives at Maple Crest. After her husband died in September of 2012, Jane lived alone in her home in Lima for nearly a year. One weekend when Nancy was visiting they drove to Maple Crest, where they found the staff extremely friendly and helpful. The indoor swimming pool clinched the decision, as her mother enjoys water exercise. She opted for an independent apartment and is very happy with her choice. “I saw a significant change in both her physical and mental health when she moved from living alone to Maple Crest,” said Nancy. “She loves the pool, the activities and is wearing out her walker on the outdoor paths!”
When Ken passed away in 2014, Nancy continued to make frequent visits to Ohio. One day in February of 2015, during the long drive in a snowstorm, she realized that the sensible thing was to come back to Ohio. After considering housing options in the area, she decided that Maple Crest was an excellent choice for her. She made an appointment with Daren Lee to see what might be available and quickly decided to move. “I looked at this villa and I was convinced. The light all day is fantastic, the second bedroom is a perfect sewing room, the layout is efficient, and my cats love it!” she laughed. The move went smoothly and after 45 years, Nancy is enjoying reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones in the Buckeye State.
As well as spending time with her mother, in her “spare time,” Nancy makes jewelry and has forayed into designing and creating unique handbags. She admitted that the handbags are labor-intensive, but has vowed to make more.
“It’s on the list.”