Raspberry Festival Quilt Show to Honor Memory of Bertha Kopczynski
Whoever said, “A stitch in time saves nine … but haste makes waste” could have been talking about the nimble fingers of local quilting legend, Bertha Kopczynski.
“Any time my sister or I would call Mom and ask what she was doing, she’d just say, ‘Quilting,’” recalls daughter Theresa Wessels of Lewiston. “When I was a young girl, I can remember my mother, grandmother and great aunt setting up a quilt to work on in the living room. I think that’s where it all started.”
Bertha, who passed away last year and is survived by nine children and 22 grandchildren, was always quick with a quilt, whether it was a blue ribbon-winner or a much-loved scrap quilt. She left a legacy of more than 864 quilts, the details of which she recorded in a “Book of Quilts” she had kept from the 1970s. At Bertha’s funeral service, quilts, instead of flowers, graced the church altar and a quilt adorned the Cottonwood sign at the entrance to town.
“Some of our favorite quilts are not the most beautiful ones,” says Wessels, who added that each of the siblings inherited 15 quilts after her mother’s death. “It’s often the scrap quilts that are soft and threadbare that we use every day. They were all made with her love.”
Bertha was definitely known for her quilts. And it was a creative passion that started young.
“We grew up together as neighbors in Greencreek, Illinois, before moving to Greencreek, Idaho,” recalls Clara Frei, Bertha’s longtime friend. “We used to cut the clothes out of fashion catalogs to put on our paper dolls.”
Bertha’s creative aspirations eventually grew into quilt making. “I have a quilt she won a blue ribbon for in my spare bedroom,” says Frei. “Every time I look at it, I think of Bertha. I miss her every day.”
For Bertha, being a good neighbor often meant handing out quilts, pies or plates of cookies.
“When my kids were younger, we built a fort in the backyard,” says neighbor Michele Byers. “Bertha saw it and brought over a quilt for the kids to put in the fort. Our family has taken that quilt to every baseball game and picnic since then. It’s part of our family memories.”
In addition to creating countless quilts for friends and loved ones, Bertha also enjoyed getting involved with the local community, praying the rosary every morning at St. Mary’s parish, and trying her hand at pinochle with the sisters of St Gertrude.
Each year Bertha supported the museum’s Raspberry Festival by joining Sr. Wilma Schlangen and other volunteers in the monastery raspberry patch at dawn to pick berries in the weeks before the festival. And she’d always volunteer for the festival quilt show. Now the museum would like to honor her support by dedicating this year’s Raspberry Festival Quilt Show in Bertha’s honor.
To honor Bertha’s memory and quilting talents, The Historical Museum at St. Gertrude is especially encouraging entries (and stories!) of quilts that Bertha assisted on or created as part of its annual Raspberry Festival Quilt Show on Sunday, August 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood.
All entries to the Raspberry Festival Quilt Show are encouraged to share details about the quilt maker, the quilt’s origin and techniques used on the back of the entry form. Display space for quilts is limited, so please return your entry form to the museum by noon Friday, July 28.
More than 400 people will view the quilts in the monastery’s Spirit Center and cast their ballot for the Viewer’s Choice Awards. Before the show opens, local quilters determine recipients of the Quilter’s Choice Awards, and the Benedictine Sisters at the Monastery of St. Gertrude award their favorite entries the Sister’s Choice ribbons.
All proceeds from the Raspberry Festival Quilt Show honoring Bertha Kopczynski will be donated to the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude. For entry forms or questions about the quilt show, please contact LaDawn Kidd at (208) 962-2387 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year’s Raspberry Festival on the first Sunday in August is a can’t-miss event. In addition to the quilt show, this popular benefit for the museum features live music, a 10K Raspberry Fun Run/5K Cake Walk, $5 cowboy breakfast, a cash raffle, antique car show, motorcycle show, Arts & Crafts Festival, games, folk demonstrations, book sale, tours of the monastery’s chapel, BBQ beef sandwiches and, of course, lots of raspberries. Hand-picked on the monastery grounds, the delectable raspberries are used to create jams, mustard, vinegar and some mouth-watering raspberry shortcake!