By Linda Jabour



President, Julia Graber’s theme was Celebrate MQA’s 25th Anniversary—Integrate Fiber Art with Traditional Quilts—Create-Go Make Something!  She issued a “Silver (Anniversary) Challenge” by inviting members to create a 25”x25” art quilt to communicate celebration. The Spring Gathering’s Friday night program was a private preview of Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry’s exhibit entitled 40 Years of Color, Light & Motion at the University of Mississippi Museum and hosted by the Piece Makers Guild of Oxford.   MQA adopted one of Martha Skelton’s quilts, New York Beauty, exhibited at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY.  At the June Gathering, Martha Ginn was recognized with a life time membership for being a MQA charter member and our first  president.  The Educational Seminar teacher was Mickey Depre.  The 2016 Outstanding Mississippi Quilters were recognized at the Fall Gathering in the Trotter Convention Center in Columbus.  They are:

Karen Asbury—Tupelo                             Joanne Humphries--Brandon

Annette Burns—Natchez                          Alta Morehead--Vaiden

Annie Edwards—Columbus                      Annette Pennington--Columbus

Louise Moody Hatcher—Philadelphia          Bonnie Prettyman--Newton

Dorothea Hoffman—Woodville


President, Marietta Johnson’s theme was Quilt It Forward--- Plant kindness by showing appreciation. Marietta promoted MQA throughout the state.  MQA banners were made for each Regional Representative to display at quilting events.  The “Welcome Center” Brochure, promoting quilting in MS was introduced at the February Gathering.  Pat Sloan was the Educational Seminar teacher.  The Fall Gathering in Picayune, included a program on Post Katrina, a display of quilts that survived the hurricane and/or Katrina Memory quilts conveying the strength to survive and move forward from the ruins.    


President, Shirley Wiltshire’s theme was Inspiration, Plan and Quilt---what INSPIRES you to quilt?  Shirley appointed the Educational Seminar Committee composed of past presidents, to select and book national instructors beyond the immediate future.  MQA quilters exhibited and demonstrated quilting techniques at the Mississippi Ag Museum for Capital Fair Day on July 5th and in November during the Fall Harvest Festival.  Anita Schackelford was the National Teacher. Gatherings were held in Gulfport, Jackson and Vicksburg.       


President, Jean Tincher’s theme was Thinking Outside the Box with Quilting. The membership was introduced to Barn Quilts at the Fall Gathering.  Gatherings were held in Meridian, Jackson and Corinth.  Thinking outside the box, Bonnie Hunter was booked to teach May 31-June 2, 2018.  This will be an additional workshop series NOT to replace the Annual Educational Seminar.  Nancy Mahoney was the Educational Seminar instructor.  At the Spring Gathering in Meridan, Judy Stokes prepared a map and presentation on MQA member guilds by region. It was very revealing by showing where MQA is well represented and pockets where we have room for improvement in the state.


President, Judy Stokes’ theme—Let’s Keep Our Heritage Alive—Pass It On.  Her objective was “To teach one person something—quilting, knitting, crochet, tatting, cooking, etc.  The next generation can only benefit from our efforts.”   The Educational Seminar instructor was Marilyn Doheny.  The Board of Directors approved amendments to the bylaws that were presented to the membership at the Fall Gathering in Starkville.  The approved amendments added 3 new positions to the board of directors--Leadership Director, Legacy Director and Webmaster.  CT featured quilter was Lucy Large.


President, Billie Thompson’s theme was Everyday Quilts, Tomorrow’s Heirlooms. She also introduced a President’s Challenge, to make a Civil War quilt or wall hanging at the June Gathering. Those participating displayed their projects at the 2012 Spring Gathering. Deb Karasik was the Educational Seminar instructor.  Her workshop was on paper piecing.  CT featured quilters were Marilyn Rose and Judy Stokes.  MQA celebrated its 20th anniversary. 


President, Carolyn Emerson’s theme, Connecting Threads to Keep our Quilting Heritage Alive Throughout the Generations.  The first annual Outstanding Mississippi Quilters Exhibit was displayed at the Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum.  The June reception honored these ten quilters and their families. 

Betty Berryhill—Raymond             Ann Carleton--Union

Aleen Cullen—Kosciusko             Martha DuBard--Louisville

Lois Ford—Philadelphia                Nellie Gary--Kosciusko

Sue Mitchell—Louisville               Lorene Paris--Brandon

Nancy Welsch—Jackson              Katherine Worrell--Utica

Joan Alliston and Georgia Polk coordinated this event. Guest speaker, Carol Vickers, shared stories about the documentation project that would become the published book, Mississippi Quilts. The 15th Annual MQA Educational Seminar was taught by Beth Ferrier.  Her topics were Sneaky Piecing Tricks and Hand Applique by Machine.  Common Thread featured quilter was Billie Thompson.


President, Gloria Reeves, challenged the membership with “the start of something new and we hope you will join us in our quest for new quilts to make, new techniques to learn, new friends to meet and new roles to fill in MQA”.  The Educational Seminar instructor was M’Liss Rae Hawley who taught classes based on her book, Mariner’s Medallion Quilts.  The Common Thread featured quilters were Jenny Reed, Carolyn Emerson and Linda Jones.  The January issue of CT included A Tribute in Memory of Martha Skelton by her granddaughter, Jennifer Fentress. Martha passed away Tuesday, November 4, 2008.


President, Cindy Pannier’s theme was to celebrate the incredible “Diversity and variety” of Mississippi quilters from experience level to preferred styles.  A book signing event was held June 12th commemorating Martha Skelton-Master Quilter in Vicksburg. It documents her life and quilting journey with family photographs and professional pictures of her amazing quilts. It was a joyful celebration of a dear quilter we love and treasure.  This incredible project and publication would not be possible had it not been for two dedicated groups of quilters, members of the Martha Skelton Book Committee co-chaired by Cay Jones and Carol Vickers and the Fund Raising Committee co-chaired by Shirley Wiltshire and Bobbie Gray.  Every MQA member who had a role in this rewarding project should be proud of this achievement and tribute.  Brett Barker was the Educational Seminar Teacher.


President, Broach Winsley’s message was “GROWTH.  Try lots of new things…Grow some more quilting friendships---teach a quilting class.”  The Quilt Legacy Committee held a documentation training session at the February Gathering.  The regional volunteers showed their dedication by reporting to class at 7:45 am!  The Martha Skelton Book Committee’s goals to assemble a professional team, all with publishing experience, to publish a book on Martha’s life and quilts, was slowly becoming a reality. A Gala honoring Martha was held in Vicksburg in May to fund her book. Donations for the silent and live auction were made by members and others. The Educational Seminar teacher was Ann Fahl on “Free Motion Embroidery”. 


President, Mary Nell Magee challenged the membership to “IMAGINE the possibilities, BELIEVE in your abilities, so you can ACHIEVE your dreams and goals”.  MQA came together at the Spring Gathering in Rankin County to support our soon to be Hurricane Adoptees by donating fabric, tools, quilting supplies, sewing machines and money to help our sisters return to their love of quilting. Many guilds adopted MQA Hurricane Katrina Survivors and provided additional support to include group quilts.

The Martha Skelton Book Committee was created to document Martha’s amazing body of works. Finding a publisher was a challenge due to the publication costs.  A special committee was appointed to address fund raising ideas and events. Mary Elizabeth Johnson signed on to write the manuscript.  Mary Sorensen was the Educational Seminar teacher.


President, Jerry Ann Dye’s theme was “A Journey of Quilts—Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”.  The MS Quilt Legacy Committee was appointed to develop guidelines and begin a research project to locate outstanding quilters. Primary considerations were that the quilter be at least 70 years old with a significant body of work to document.  Sue Nickels taught “Machine Applique” at the Educational Seminar.  The Fall Gathering was cancelled due to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  Our Coastal and Southern quilting sisters and vendors suffered and lost so much.        


President, Nancy Funderburk’s theme was ”The Year to Plan For So Much More”.  The June Gathering changed venues again by meeting at Hines Community College, Rankin County Campus in Pearl. Gatherings were held in Madison, Pearl and Greenville.  Karen Combs was the Educational Seminar instructor.  Her topic, “Patchwork Illusions”.


President, Jere’ Funk’s theme—“Past, Present, Future and Lagniappe…to enhance your MQA Experience”.  MQA’s bylaws were revised to include two new board members, Publicity Directory and Historian.  The Educational Seminar instructor was Pat Campbell.  Her topic, “Jacobean Applique”.  At the Fall Gathering in Biloxi, attendees were privileged to view 3 beautiful quilts assembled to support the “Pascagoula River Basin Project.  44 blocks were submitted by MQA members.


President, Martha Dubard, challenged the membership “to be bold in developing our creativity through infusion of fresh innovative procedures”.  Copies of Mississippi Quilts, along with 26 quilts pictured in the book, were featured at the Paducah Rotary Club in April. The second Leadership Retreat was held with the focus on exchanging ideas to help MQA grow and prepare for the future. Guest speaker was Allegra Brigham. The June Gathering changed venues by meeting at the Duncan Gray Center in Canton. The MQA handbook was adopted in June 2002.  Karen Stone was the Educational Seminar instructor.


President, Joan Alliston, challenged the membership “to involve new people in our organization…Also involve youth in quilting”.  At the February Gathering in Hattiesburg, MQA celebrated our first ten years.  The first MQA Leadership Retreat was held at Lake Tiak-O’Khata in March. The guest speakers were Carol Ann Moss and Harriet Laird. The official presentation of Mississippi Quilts was held at the Old Capital Museum in Jackson on July 15th.  Author, Mary Elizabeth Johnson and photographer, J.D. Schwalm were present to sign copies. In the first 6 weeks, the publisher sold 2500 hard and softback copies! Nancy Pearson was the Educational Seminar instructor.


President, Sue Mitchell, challenged the membership “to stretch yourself as you try a new  quilting venture: Develop a new skill, create a new quilt design, improve your quilt stitch, try a new color scheme”.  MQA’s documentation project introduced our traveling photographic exhibit with the first exhibit at the Neshoba County Library in Philadelphia entitled Unfolding Our Past: Mississippi Quilts-1850 to 1946.   The Mississippi Quilts book manuscript was delivered to University Press of Mississippi. Publication date set for June 2001.  At the June Gathering, the first Leadership planning session met to brain storm ideas to make MQA an even greater organization.  MQAlist@egroups.com was launched by Jere’ Funk to keep members informed. The Educational Seminar instructor was Margaret J Miller.   


President, Sandra Plummer, challenged organization to “Go Back to the Basics (of quilting”.  The Documentation Project continued to make significant progress by receiving a $5000 grant from La-Z-Boy Corporation allowing funds to sign a contract with quilt author, Mary Elizabeth Johnson, to write the text of our book.  Plans were tentatively set to have a quilt exhibit and book sale at the Rotary Club Show in Paducah in April 2001.  Other grants had been submitted to raise funds.  The Educational Seminar instructor was Jackie Robinson.


President, Ella Lucas, challenged members to expand their quilters’ friendship circle (when attending our gatherings).  The documentation project remains a work in process, currently seeking a publisher and continuing to raise funds to finance the publishing of a book.  The “Mississippi Stars” quilt with 56 signatures of our state’s well known people was finished and tickets ready to sell to raise funds for documentation. The Educational Seminar instructor was Elly Sienkievicz.


President, Nancy Welsch, challenged our membership to share—your talents, your time and your friendship (with other quilters).  The Educational Seminar instructor was Dixie Hayword.  The Documentation Project report in September CT stated that 1,550 quilts had been documented at 15 sites since 1995.


President, Ellen Hall’s challenge---“Bend and Stretch”.  In January 1996, the Board of Directors approved the creation of the Quilt Search Executive Board to oversee the MQA’s quilt search project.  All documentation funds will be moved to a separate banking account.  MQA qualified for tax deductible status under Section 501©3 of IRS Code. The Educational Seminar instructor was Gabrielle Swain.

The June Gathering had a new format featuring Lynn Kough, quilt artist, instructor, and author of “Stretching Tradition” presented an all-day class to 150 attendees auditorium style.  Friday night she taught a class entitled “Midnight Madness”.


President, Evelyn Palmer’s focus was on documentation.  The Documentation Committee met in November and December in 1994 to make plans for our statewide quilt search.  The plan and time-line presented by Carol Vickers, chair, was adopted on January 7th.  Funds must be secured.  Their goal of 20 Quilt Search Days to be scheduled in different sites around the state.  The first “Quilt Search Day” was held in Jackson in August.  The project goal was to document between 3500-4000 quilts.  There are 2 requirements: that the quilt be completed prior to 1945 and belong to a Mississippi resident.  The Fall Gathering in Oxford featured a lecture/demonstration by Martha Skelton and Ann Root on dating old quilts. The “Adopt-a-Block” Project resulted in over 100 blocks made and researched.  Plans were made to create an educational slide show. The Educational Seminar instructor was Flavin Glover.


President, Barbara Newman’s theme---“Reach for the Stars”.  The Educational Seminar was established featuring national teachers.  The first seminar instructor was Irma Gail Hatcher.  Her topic: Applique.  At the June Gathering a quilt documentation and research project was introduced with an “Adoption Tree”.  It contained 103 stars, each represented a quilt block for volunteers to make plus research history of the block.


Ollie Jean Lane served as our second president with her theme, “Quilt More in ‘94’”.  The Finance Committee made decision to divide the “Roses” donation quilt proceeds between funds for quilt education and a quilt documentation or search project.  The drawing was held at the June Gathering.  Funds raised totaled $4007.  By September, MQA’s membership was 330.


The June Gathering tradition, with educational workshops, was established.  It was held at Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson with MQA members serving as the instructors.  The first donation quilt, “Everything Coming Up Roses” project started with 31 members who submitted blocks.  18 blocks were selected.  The design, construction and quilting was a team effort involving a year of fun, hard work, shared loved and lasting friendships.   Ticket sales would fund MQA’s treasury.


A dozen quilters met in October 1990 at Ann Root’s Olde Town Stitchery quilt shop in Clinton to discuss the possibility of forming a state quilt organization.  They wondered if there would be enough interest to make such an organization possible.  The first gathering was held in February 1991 at the Paul B. Johnson State Park to learn, stitch and share.  About 180 attended.  The Mississippi Quilt Association was official with Articles of Incorporation filed.  Martha Ginn was elected the first president.

The first edition of “Common Thread”, published in May announced plans for the 1991 June Gathering held at the Mississippi Delta Community College in Moorhead. The Fall Gathering was held in Picayune where the bylaws were adopted.  Eight regions of the state were defined and Regional Representatives identified.