Mrs. McClelland rediscovers joy of quilting

Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Mrs. McClelland rediscovers the art of quilting without the use of frames. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Town Crier News Staff

Ruby McClelland has always been active and independent and has no plans to quit just because she is 86 years old. She is proud of her age and is always looking for ways to keep not only her hands, but her mind, busy.

Her latest accomplishment is completing a nine-patch quilt she started last November.

The unique quilt is all handmade. She started with remnants a friend had brought her from Wal-Mart. She sewed every block separately. She stacked the blocks using Dacron filling in between the blocks sewing them together making a reversible, light weight quilt.

McClelland, a longtime resident of Monette, has been living at Lakeside Nursing Center in Lake City for two and a half years.

"I had to figure out a way to make the quilt without frames," Ms. McClelland said.

The first quilt turned out nicely and she has started on a second one she plans to give to her daughter.

Mrs. McClelland was born in Malvern to Garland and Lena Robbins. Her dad was a minister and moved his family to Monette in 1936. She met her future husband, James McClelland, at church and they married in 1937. They made their home in Monette where they raised their three children, Jerry McClelland of Tennessee, Janice Sutton of Mountain Home, and Jim McClelland of New York.

Mr. McClelland was a barber in Monette for many years. The family lived on the farm and he helped his brothers work the land part-time.

Mr. McClelland died in 1981.

Mrs. McClelland said her mother was the quilter of the family.

"My father was a minister and my mother did quilting for the public," she said.

Mrs. McClelland said they moved a lot during her growing up years. She attended seven schools while she was acquiring her education and managed to graduate at the age of 16.

She also took music lessons when she was young and played the piano at church. She still enjoys playing the piano occasionally at Lakeside.

"The piano, like quilting, is good therapy for your hands and helps keep your mind busy and sharp," Mrs. McClelland said.

She also takes care of her own room as much as she can at Lakeside. She makes her own bed and takes care of herself.

Mrs. McClelland worked in nursing homes during her working career. She was social director at Caraway Nursing Home and transferred to Lane's Nursing Home in 1975 when it opened. She also worked for Crowley's Ridge Development Council and did private care for homebound people. She said she had a good working life.

"I've had some good times working in nursing homes," Ms. McClelland said. "That may be why I adjusted so well to being here. The staff and residents at Lakeside have made it easy for me. When I first came in I was down and had to be monitored 24 hours a day. Today I am up quilting, reading, and pretty much taking care of my own needs. I still use a wheelchair when I go out of my room just to be safe."

She has always been an avid reader and one of the staff members keeps her stocked weekly with new books. She enjoys reading family-type Christian books, novels with a lot of history and geography included.

She recently made a video recording family history as well as telling how things were in the "old days." Her younger son brought a video camera and asked her questions about her life. It will be a family heirloom to pass on to future generations.

Mrs. McClelland has eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

"My grandchildren live all the way from St. Louis to Houston, Texas, Tennessee, and in-between," she said. "Even though we do not live close enough to drop in every day or two, we are a very close family at heart."

Mrs. McClelland was selected as Miss Lakeside 2006. She received the Miss Congeniality trophy at the AHCA District 4 pageant.

"My mother lived to be a hundred years old," Mrs. McClelland said. "She always said she was going to live to be a hundred and she did.

"I am a contented person. I'm thankful God has provided a place for his provisions he has promised."

She plans to have her second quilt done in two months and be ready to start another one.

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