When Lee Moorman died in April, she left a legacy of joy — memories of time spent with her husband Phil and her Muret relatives — and all kinds of activities, including quilting.
Her prized quilt, which she had worked on, off and on, for four years, was finished, so Phil entered it for her in the Open Class section at the Cowley County Fair.
The queen-sized quilt is in vivid turquoise — her favorite color — with intricate stitching and machine quilting. Each block took about 3 1/2 hours to embroider, her husband said.
Lee received her diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer on Nov. 27, 2018, “the day before our 10th wedding anniversary,” Phil said.
Early on, after Lee had received the diagnosis, someone said they were hoping for a miracle, Lee’s niece, Jenny Muret Bate said.
Lee’s response was, “This is a miracle.”
“She had time to spend with family and friends, time to take care of whoever, time to have a lot of fun,” Jenny said.
“She had that attitude with stage 4 cancer. She was always looking on the bright side.”
Jenny said Lee was “the world’s greatest retiree. She always had projects going.” She had a longtime interest in fabric arts and had been quilting 10 or 12 years.
One thing she and her family wanted to do was to spend as much time together as they could. She founded the Hackney Sewing Circle because most family members live nearby.
“She got embroidery machines and tried to teach us how to embroider. We were all failures,” Jenny said.
She wanted to make quilts for all the family members, so she used the sewing circle as the means for teaching them how to quilt.
“Ours are not fair-winning materials,” Jenny said.
Her daughter Emma is almost finished with the T-shirt quilt she started under Lee’s guidance.
Son Owen made a quilt with Walnut Valley Festival T-shirts.
“Pretty much everyone (in the family) has a quilt from Lee,” Jenny said.
The sewing circle was a way for the family to be together and pass the time doing something creative and fun, Jenny said.
“Sometimes we’d sit and listen to music or watch TV. We were just like little old ladies,” she added.
Phil, who works second shift, came home many an evening to find the circle ensconced in the living room working on their projects and watching over Lee.
Lee worked on the quilt “probably thousands of hours,” said Nancy Rathbun, co-owner of Ponca City Quilt Shop, who finished the quilt for Lee.
“The quilt is beautiful,” Phil said. One time he added up the cost of materials and it cost about $600 — and that didn’t include Lee’s labor.
The quilt has 180 blocks, and it took3 1/2 hours per block to embroider it.
“She enjoyed it,” Phil said. “It really helped her.” One morning Lee woke up at 6 and told Phil, “I woke up thinking about cutting fabric.”
“All she was going through,” he said. The quilting “really helped. Anything that could take her mind off what she was going through.”
Lee wanted to create a quilt for everyone in the family, Jenny said, so she helped some of them do theirs. Her students mostly got theirs done, too, “though I’ll never be a quilter like her,” Jenny said.
Lee took Jenny around to area quilt shops that provided lots of help for her through the quilting process.
The ladies at Field to Fabric in Winfield were “a real godsend,” Jenny said. “And they were always making things more cheerful.”
The Beehive in Wellington — a quilting shop and toy store — was always a delight. “They were very knowledgeable and generous with their time,” Jenny said.
As Lee’s health continued to get worse, Phil convinced her to take the quilt blocks to the Ponca City Quilt Shop where Nancy Rathbun finished putting it together for her.
“It was almost done,” Nancy said. “I worked on it only about 20 hours.”
Once the quilt was finished. Phil and Lee about his putting it in the fair and she agreed.
“I am so glad he did,” Rathbun said. “It is such a tribute to her.”
Jenny said she thinks of the blessing of the whole experience.
“Phil took such good care of Lee,” Jenny said. “And she had so many other people who looked after her, too. She knew she was sick, but she had time to do what she wanted, and she had friends to help her.
“If there was a right way to do things, Lee was able to do it.”