MURRAY – Local quilt maker Theresa Schroader misses her friend and collaborator, the late David Foley, but she looks forward to continuing his mission of honoring past service members with a quilt that will be unveiled on Veterans Day.
For the last five years, Foley, who died on July 16, had selected a number of veterans to honor each year and Schroader would make a “memory quilt” in their honor. Starting in 2016, the quilts were unveiled on Veterans Day, with families of the late veterans present to receive the honor and say a few words if they wished. Dave Wilson, quartermaster for Veterans of Foreign Wars Herman Eddie Roberts Post 6291 in Murray, said the organization was proud to assist in hosting the ceremony.
Schroader said that although Foley sadly won’t be here this year to pay tribute to the veterans, he had begun the process of choosing the individuals who would be honored around the start of the year. Schroader said the photos and names that will be included this year are Charles Edward Hale, Lewis Hudspeth, James Carman Morton, Joe Morton, Earl T. Jackson, Billie Reed, David Reed and J.T. Duffy. The quilt will be presented on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at the Miller Courthouse Annex.
“David Foley always gave me the names for who to put on (the quilt),” Schroader said. “He and I would then look them up and find information on them, and he would get with the families and tell them that we’re dedicating this quilt to them. Then I just make it from there.
“We usually start on this in February, so I actually had all the names and most of the information except for one,” Schroader said. “Dave Wilson got me the information on that one.”
Schroader said she first met Foley when she was a child attending Southwest Calloway Elementary School. Then a few years ago, Foley came up with the idea of doing something special for veterans and enlisted her help. After Foley died, Schroader said she wasn’t sure what would happen with the quilt, but then she heard from his widow, Sally Foley, who told her she had talked to Calloway County Judge-Executive Kenny Imes about reserving the courthouse annex.
“David Foley, who was my schoolteacher, contacted me and had this idea of doing something (for veterans), so he and I came up with this idea of doing a memory quilt,” Schroader said. “He was the brains behind it. He was the one who came up with the idea and had me to do the work.
“After he passed away, I stopped working on it because I didn’t figure we were going to do anything, and then Sally called me last month and said she was going to keep on doing it and that she had called Kenny Imes and made the arrangements. So I just picked up from then.”
Sally Foley said she was happy to be able to continue the tradition her husband had started.
“He just felt that on Veterans Day, he needed to honor some of the former soldiers that had passed away in Calloway County,” Sally said. “Where he got the idea for the quilt, I don’t know, but he talked with Theresa and they got their heads together and thought this would be a good idea. Then it flourished from there.
“At first, all the quilts were hung in the courthouse and we had a ceremony for the hanging of the quilt and had members of the families of those honored on the quilt to speak and tell a little bit about their hero. It was quite crowded in the courthouse, so it was decided that we would try the annex at the old post office. It was a much better place because it had better acoustics and a lot more space, and people could bring memorabilia and place it around the room so people could see more than just the quilt of their loved ones. They could see actual things that brought them to memory. It was much better-received there, and there were places to sit.”
“Our goal is to support the living and honor the dead within the VFW,” Wilson said of the project. “With the passing of David Foley, we want to certainly make sure to get this over the finish line and that the torch is successfully passed. We will see this ceremony through to its completion in honor of those veterans that he had identified and selected for that recognition this year.”
Although Schroader wasn’t sure at first if she wanted to continue without Foley, she said she looks forward to finishing the quilt and showing it the families of the veterans being honored. She said she plans to pay full tribute to Foley with next year’s quilt.
“Next year will be his quilt, and that will be extremely hard,” she said. “That will be the hardest one for me to make. He was a substitute at school and had my kids. We’ve been friends for so long, (making his quilt) will be extremely hard.”