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Quilters 'recycle' his Sunday best

Virginia and Lennard Erickson look over the quilt blocks she fashioned from her husband's neck tie collection dating back to the 1940s. The bow-tie themed quilt will be raffled to benefit the Blomkest Fire Department. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

BLOMKEST -- During his working years, Lennard Erickson ran the Blomkest Auto Body Shop with his brother Ted and never shied from the grime that came with the work.

But come Sunday, there wasn't a church service that didn't see Lennard Erickson in the pew with a handsome neck tie to complement his finest apparel.

A sharp-looking tie for Sunday service and special occasions was a must for Erickson, who had a tie collection going back to the 1940s.

Had is the operative word here, as the woman whose eye he captured with those ties has put them to a new use, and with his blessing.

"It's certainly the most unique quilt we've ever had,'' laughed Evie Paulson, one of the Blomkest quilters who had a role in this recycling project.

Virginia Erickson took all of the ties her husband accumulated during their 64 years of marriage and hand-stitched them into the blocks for a queen-size quilt to be raffled to benefit the Blomkest Fire Department.

It's part of a 24-year-long tradition in the community. Each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the community holds a fund raising event with turkey prizes and the awarding of a raffled quilt.

It's always hand crafted by volunteers in the community. A dozen or more volunteers had a role in hand-stitching the quilt that Erickson completed.

Lennard currently resides at Bethesda Pleasant View in Willmar. He was a charter member of Blomkest's volunteer fire department.

The tradition of raffling a quilt for the fire department has a surprisingly successful track record. One year the raffled quilt was used to buy a defibrillator for the community. It was put to use to save a life on the day of the raffle.

The most popular quilt to date had raised $1,640 for the department. Paulson said she's hopeful that this one may set a new record.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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