A “Life is Good” Quilt in Memory of Sue Dornbos

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Quilters from left to right: Patty Keller, Allyne Maltby, Regina Richardson, Mary Ann Kudary, Jane Peterson. Additional members of the Hearthside Quilters who also worked on the quilt but are not pictured: Marci Bailey, Diana Girolami, Brenda Bowers, and Emmy Shearer. Photo by Linda Lane.

By Linda Lane

Fifty-six different “Life is Good” T-shirts were lovingly cut and pieced into a quilt in memory of Sue Dornbos. One of Sue’s daughters, Sarah Dornbos, who lives in California, made a special request of the Vicksburg Hearthside Quilters to make the quilt from T-shirts that Sue had purchased over the years for herself and her three girls.

Jane Peterson and Regina Richardson spearheaded the project and enlisted the help of the Vicksburg Hearthside Quilters to produce the beautiful T-shirt quilt. Vicksburg Hearthside Quilters, the group of nine women who made the quilt, has been around for over 35 years. Sue Dornbos was a founding member. While the group normally meets monthly, they started the quilt in September and had additional meetings to work on the quilt.

The queen-size quilt brings out all the colors of the shirts, most of them in pastel, with 8-inch-square blocks. The shirts were worn by Sue or given to her three girls as gifts from her. Sue and Sarah had done volunteer work in Haiti together, and one of the T-shirts has Haiti referenced on it. Regina intends to send a picture of the quilt to the company who manufactures the “Life is Good” t-shirts.

“Sue was a very positive person and I think that’s what attracted her to the “Life is Good” T-shirts. Sarah got them all together and asked us to cut them all up into the quilt. All those shirts are $20-30 each, so we cut up a lot of money!” Regina Richardson said.

Sue Dornbos and Jane Peterson knew each other from school where they both grew up in the Ludington area. They both had three daughters and happenstance drew them both to the Vicksburg area to raise their families.

“Sue was such a dear friend to all of us. It was very therapeutic for our group to make the quilt for Sarah. We were all still grieving the loss of Sue and it was part of the recovery process. Really, it was an honor to make it in memory of Sue,” Jane Peterson said. “The warmth and comfort the quilt brings to Sarah will mirror all the warmth and comfort Sue brought to all who knew her.”

The group found a complement for the quilt that they have also sent to Sarah. It’s a book called “Life is Good: Simple Words from Jake and Rocket.” All the quilters signed the book for Sarah.

“Life is Good” T-shirts contain meaningful quotes, many with their main theme, “Life is good. Do what you like. Like what you do. Simple as that.” Others include “Simplify” “Happy Hour” (roasting marshmallows) “Follow your heart” “Enjoy the present” “Be what you want” and “Dream big.”

Sarah described receiving the quilt:
“Today I received the most amazing gift from the Hearthside Quilters in Vicksburg. They were willing to finish a “Life is Good” T-shirt quilt that my mom and I had talked about making, but were unable to get to before she got sick. I will think of these friends of hers with gratitude every time I curl up in it. Not only does it contain T-shirts that my mom and I both wore in photographs together, but it is stitched through with love by friends who had quilted with her for decades…a tangible reminder that all was not lost when I lost my mom. It was a wonderful Presidents Day surprise gift.”
Perfect sentiments for a woman like Sue Dornbos, who was a positive inspiration to all who knew her.

Vicksburg Hearthside Quilters

Currently comprised of nine women from the Vicksburg area, this generous group of quilters has made many cancer quilts for different people battling cancer. They like working on group projects and have made quilts for the community’s benefit. For example, they produced a quilt which was raffled off at the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market. They also made quilts for the community quilt center and the hospitality house. It’s a loose, social group of friends and they don’t really have membership dues. They usually meet monthly at the home of one of their members.

Sue Dornbos was a founding member of the group. Another member from the Vicksburg Hearthside Quilters, Diane Dean, passed away from cancer. The Schoolcraft Library had a show of her quilts recently. Her husband James had a rock from their property carved into a headstone, and engraved it with a quilt block.

The quilters won’t get together again until April because many of the group are out town in warmer climes.

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