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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

Quilters 'recycle' his Sunday best

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

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.

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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.

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