Saturday, March 5, 2011

Star Quilt Reporter Cinda Cawley Passes

Block I made for Cinda when she first became ill.

If you are a member of the QHL quilt history discussion list or the AQSG quilt history discussion list, you have already heard of the passing of our beloved Cinda Cawley.

If you are a member of neither of these groups, you are missing out on the experience of a lifetime when it comes to friendships — as well as quilt history information!

Here the quilt sleuths gather at one of Fran's Friends fabric study meetings in Maryland
about 1999 or 2000, eagerly awaiting that first quilt to be spread out!  Cinda is in the far
right corner of the photo. Hazel Carter has her back to the camera. Barb Garrett is in the upper left
with Suzzane Cawley next to her--(no relation to Cinda). Phyllis Twigg Hatcher is the 3rd person
to Cinda's right. Can't remember the rest of the names.

Like most of those I have met in the quilt history world these past 30 years, Cinda was one-of-a-kind. Her sense of "can-do" when it came to ferretting out the story hidden in a quilt was contagious. Her moral outrage when it came to politics could light up the sky. Her generosity touched your heart and her fun-loving spirit made you want to be sure to be in her car so you could be along for the adventure!

How fortunate we of the VA-MD-PA fabric dating clubs were to have Cinda in our midst for so many years. Her ability to retain what she saw at those meetings and produce a full-blown written report later without hardly taking a note absolutely amazed me. Without her written reports, which she posted to QHL and AQSG, I wouldn’t have been able to identify half the photos I took at the meetings.
Nov 2000 - Cinda on right holding one of her fraktur quilts.
The hanging quilts are from my small Shenandoah Valley collection.

I spoke to Bayside Quilters on Maryland's Eastern Shore in Nov 2000 and had the great joy and privilege of spending the night with Cinda. It was the night America couldn’t decide who had really won the presidential election. It was an experience I will fondly and forever remember for having shared it with Cinda Cawley!

Cinda had not been well for a couple of years but we had all so hoped she was going to be able to keep putting one foot in front of the other and do what she loved best - document those quilts! And so she did for almost two more years.

Lorie Stubbs and Cinda Cawley stop to examine an antique quilt
at the 2009 AQSG Seminar in San Jose, California.

Alas, Cinda finally laid her pen and needle down and headed off to wherever Cuesta Benberry, Sally Garoutte, Lucy Hilty, Helen Kelley, Shiela Betterton, Mary Schafer, Bonnie Leman, Cryil Nelson, Joan Kiplinger, Sara Dillow, Hilary Fletcher, Sharon Newman, Helen Ewer and now even Jean Ray Laury (who also passed this week) are gathered in the Great Beyond. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Look at the Seminar attendees she is hob-nobbing with now!!!

Karen in the Islands

PS: If you want to leave a note for the family here, I'll be sure these messages get passed on to them.

More photos from Cinda's friends!

Beverly Birkmire from Maryland's Eastern Shore shared the following from the 2008 AQSG Seminar:

Who knows the story about this quilt?

Back row l-r: Julie Hardy, Cinda, Greta Van den Berg. Looks like the three in the front are first timers from Texas! Welcome First Timers Vickie Stipe, Debbie Stojanik and Ramona Williams!

Eastern Shore Quilt Study Group

FRONT ROW - Nancy Hahn (red), Polly Mello, Marylou McDonald (green), Cinda Cawley;
MIDDLE - Debby Cooney, Mary Kerr (behind Debby), Susan Shreuers (turquoisie), Madge Ziegler (red), Julianne Hardy (pink);
BACK ROW- Greta VanDenBerg Nestle, Karen Dever, Beverly Birkmire, Barbara Garrett (purple)

Below is a booth she set up at a show in Maryland, I believe, to share AQSG with the public.

Cinda was passionate about AQSG. Presenting her paper Ihr Teppich: Quilts and Fraktur at the 2004 Seminar in Vancouver, WA was a dream come true. Wish I had some photos from that moment.  

(My wish was just granted! Lisa Portwood just sent the photo below.)  

Cinda delivering her paper in Vancouver in 2004

Tribute from Xenia  Cord

Anyone who ever encountered Cinda, in person or through the cyberworld, was aware of her prodigious memory, her sparkling intellect, her sharp wit, her incredible generosity.   "Cindalogues" were word pictures that made us wish to have been there to see the quilts she described, and also made us long for the graceful language skills with which she excited her unknown readers.

But Cinda also made an impact in other, less recognized ways.  When she was researching and writing her AQSG paper on fraktur quilts, she asked me to be her mentor (an improbable role-reversal).  During the process we shared many laughs over her insistence on still more in-depth research, and my threats to bring out my whip if she didn't begin the writing process.  And so the paper developed and matured, and in October 2004 she appeared before an eager AQSG audience at the annual seminar, that year held in Vancouver, Washington.

Until that time, the format for presenting papers had been to read an edited text to the audience, a procedure that kept presenters on track within the tightly scheduled presentation period.  Cinda was impatient with that approach, choosing instead to share with us some of what she had discovered about the lives, inter-familial connections, and personalities of the people she had met on the signed quilts.  We could read her research at our leisure, she said.  As she told us about Avaline Sarah Ann Ziegenfuss Stern, the woman who sparked her research interest, she brought us into the world of the Pennsylvania she knew and loved and made those who peopled her quilts live again.  It was her hope that her research would "insure that not only she [Avaline] but those she loved, will not be forgotten."

And so Cinda has affected us all, and we are the better for it.

Xenia Cord

The following photos came from Jean Carlton and were taken at Cinda's PA Quilts Study Center at the AQSG Seminar in Lowell, Massachusetts in October 2007.

Photo below is from Anita Loscalzo, recalling another AQSG member we lost (Helen Ewer) not long after the 2007 Seminar. Helen so much resembled Cinda that members were constantly walking up to Helen at Seminar and assuming she was Cinda and vice-a-versa. They finally came up with a solution....look at their name tags in the photo closely.

Another photo from Lisa Portwood

Photo below courtesy of Judy Grow

More photos below from Beverly Birkmire from the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe....Looks like Cinda, Patricia Herr and Dawn Heefner have a very difficult decision to make!  Cinda discovered the bakery just down from the hotel where the 2009 San Jose AQSG Seminar was held....and proceeded to lead us all astray. (Like we needed any help! When you attend Semianr, count on being led astray.)

A Tribute from Hazel Carter, founder of 
The Quilters Hall of Fame and co-founder of the 
Northern Virginia Antique Quilt/Fabric Dating Club

Say it isn’t so!  Those have been my thoughts since receiving the phone call from Beverly Birkmire about the passing of our dear friend, Cinda.  Cinda had phoned me the middle of February and in her conversation said as soon as she got out of the hospital she was going to have John bring her down to our Dating Club so she could let us see her newly acquired New York quilts.  She explained that they were quite different from her Pennsylvania quilts.

She had been active in the Pennsylvania quilting community prior to joining our Antique and Vintage Fabric Dating Club.  We are indebted to her for reporting on our meetings and putting us on the map!  Can you believe she wrote those reports without notes in the beginning?  

I enjoyed seeing the many historical printed scarves and hankies that she began sharing with the group so I gave her a Frankie Welch scarf printed with the Cherokee alphabet.  She gave an outstanding presentation for my guild on this collection. She explained that the scarf I had given her was a great addition to her collection as she had researched and found that Presidents had often presented the Cherokee scarves to visiting foreign guests.  

Cinda you will be missed for your knowledge, your humor, research and collections.  But you will live on in our memories forever.    Hazel Carter

A Tribute from AQSG member Gaye Ingram

With Gaye Ingram's permission, I am adding her AQSG post below.

March 6, 2011

I've been unable to get Cinda out of my thoughts this weekend. My mind cannot accept her absence. 

For if anyone was ever fully "present," it was Cinda!

Without her, we will not be the same.

When I first joined this list, I was fascinated by references to "The Dating Club." I knew it had something to do with quilts, but I couldn't figure out exactly what. Somehow the notion of assigning dates to quilts did not occur to me. I was teaching teenagers at the time and accustomed to another context.

My first fully formed idea of that group came via one of Cinda's famous posts to qhl. In the wake of 9-11, I was like a lot of people, just stunned into some new system of time and priorities.  

Clearly the Dating Club ladies were made of sterner stuff, for Cinda described the difficulties involves in getting to a previously scheduled meeting. A large truck transporting missles had been in a wreck on a highway in the D.C. area, and missles littered the highway and roadsides. Traffic was stopped, then turned back. The Dating Club members were undeterred, however. They did the unthinkable, given the time and place: they drove across the greensward between highways, and then by hook and by crook, they found their way back to the unblocked portion of the highway. In the South we would have reported the maneuverings and our daring in defying authority, but not Cinda. She made the whole affair seem routine. What she reported was what the group saw that day. In full and glorious detail. 

Cinda taught me so much by way of this list. Living in Louisiana, I had no ready access to the kinds of bounty to which Cinda and others in the Mid-Atlantic group routinely saw. I'd spent time in museum archives and seen more than most people I knew. But I simply hadn't the largesse available to that group. And Cinda, without notes, generously opened that world to me and many others. I've missed her reports, the conversations they generated.

I confess I cannot fully grasp that her posts will no longer appear on qhl. I've not been able to grasp that this terrible disease could stop a force so vital as Cinda Cawley. Of all our list members, she seemed the most unstoppable. 

I think tonight of so many people who had been her traveling companions and fellow discoverers, of how they must feel. And I think of all of us on this list, how much poorer we are. We are a diverse lot, but we are one in our dismay and grief at this loss, I suspect. 

All day I've wanted to thank Kris, who gathered us here when there were no blogs and web sites and created a community wherein we could support and learn from one another and where, it is clear to me this night, we could come to love one another. I've never valued it more, Kris.         Gaye Ingram

A Tribute from Candace Perry 
of the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center

I second Gaye's post -- and want to add how supportive Cinda was to the
little guys like my museum, always including us on her travels through PA.
Also, what struck me is what a rich and diverse life Cinda had -- and it
saddens me that I only knew her from one perspective, quilts -- and how I
wish I had the opportunity to know her many fascinating facets.

Brava, Cinda!

Candace Perry
Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center

A  Tribute from Sally Ward 
of the British Quilt & Textile History List

Anyone whose life has been touched, on any level, by the world of quilters will be aware of the generosity always shown in their works. It took the internet to show me their wonderful generosity of spirit. Once, with my arcane interest in the history of quilts, I felt rather alone in a corner of northern England. Then along came the internet, the happy chance of finding Kris's Quilt History List, the flowering of internet access among quilters in the UK, and the wonder of daily chat worldwide with people who willingly share knowledge, information, and textile experiences I would otherwise have never know.

Cinda saw, and then spent her time reporting for us, more in one of her Dating Club meetings than I will see in a decade in my small corner. I wish my brain could retain a fraction of what she had to tell us (long live the QHL and BQTHL archives, what a resource she left us) . But what will always stay with me is admiration and gratitude for the generosity of a remarkable lady.    Sally Ward

 A Tribute from AQSG member Jan Thomas - March 2011

Dear friends,

I remember a few years ago when I offered to turn over my research on the Blosser quilts to someone who could write or put together a paper and Xenia threatened to get out her whip".  A few months later Cinda asked me "when are we going to hear about those quilts.  Do I have to get out my whip"? I know, for a brief second, an image of AQSG board members violently abusing their researching  members flashed through my mind but, instead, I said "Wow, you all sure think alike."  She just  grinned, but now I know where she got it.

I met Cinda in 2005 and it was love at first paragraph.  As it was when I read my first Gaye-gram, I  wondered how had I gotten along not knowing this enchanting person.  I grew up reading one book  after another so I admire the written word.  (My middle sister liked cleaning and polishing.  Today, her  house is really clean; my mind is cluttered, haha!)

After seminar in MN, I wrote to Cinda to tell her I would be replicating Margaret Blosser's 'Hand Quilt'  with contemporary tracings.  I had to get over thinking it was a really dumb idea and go for it.   Last  November she sent me the drawing of her own hand.  So, I'm officially committed to doing this since  she's now watching us all from above.

If y'all would send me a tracing of your dominant hand with your name and the date, I would be most grateful.  I promise no turkey simulations.  And, please don't think that I might be getting too many  since I know Maggie had 'leftover hands' that she put into a fourth quilt (which could be living somewhere in Michigan or California).

I'm not a quilter either, but Maggie didn't start quilting until she was 60 years old and I'm, well, let just  say in the range.  You may all send your deepest apologies to my dear friend, Lorie Stubbs, and the  Rocky Mountain Quilt Study Group who will be taking my blood pressure and holding my hand through  it all.  The worst is yet to come girls.  What would I do without the women in my life?

This means you too guys!

Thank you.

Jan Thomas, just below the Stargate.

Tribute from Lorie Stubbs of Colorado

Lorie Stubbs sent me the following note and two photos March 18, 2011.

Hi Karen, Not sure why I'm sending this to you, except that I consider you the expert in disseminating information. I love these two pictures of Cinda.  These were taken March 1, 2009 at the study group in DC.  My friend Susan and I were heading to the airport after the AQSG Williamsburg Conference. Hazel Carter had alerted me that the group was meeting that Sunday afternoon within hours of our departure from the airport.  We decided we couldn't miss it! and I'm so glad we went because it was as good as some of the museums we'd visited.  There was a MAJOR storm coming which did hit but not until after our plane took off.  We were meant to be there.
Lorie Stubbs

A Tribute from Teddy Pruett dated November 2008

Once upon a soft, lavender, dewy morning, the Great Goddess- of-All-Wonderful-Quilt-Things discovered a secret place of Quilt Blessings.  She had placed those blessings there her very self, but as GG was getting on in years, she'd forgotten where she put them.  It was as much fun as discovering money in an old purse!  She held this enormous pile of blessings in her hand, blessings that sparkled and glistened and delighted her. 

The greatest among the blessings was the opportunity to see every wonderful quilt related event on earth.  The next greatest blessing was the ability to be able to write passages of great description to share with mere mortals who could only dream of possessing Blessing Number One.

GG moved her hand slowly, admiring the effect of the blessings she held, delighted that they looked much like a hand full of sparklers. The negative thing about sparklers is that they burn out so quickly, and if shared with others, you get the effect of many many sparklers and much fizzy light.  At this point, GG decided to share the wealth of the blessings.  She raised her sparkling, blessed hand to her face, closed her eyes, and blew the blessings to earth.

She hit Cinda Cawley right square in the ass. 

Teddy Pruett

Additional Note from Karen Alexander:

Barbara Brackman, Cinda, Karen Alexander, 
Merikay Waldvogel at the 2009 San Jose Seminar

What a surprise to receive the above photo from Beverly Birkmire. I have been re-reading many of Cinda's emails and posts the past few days. As Gaye wrote above "I've been unable to get Cinda out of my thoughts this weekend. My mind cannot accept her absence." 

Nor can I believe she is gone from us. Her personhood, her personality will forever live on in my mind’s eye. She will always be fresh and alive to me because she was always SO VERY ALIVE in her whole attitude towards life. She was one of a kind. But this is so true of so many AQSG members!  I have always experienced AQSG as a place where women could shine as individuals. My first seminar was 1985. For some 25 years my best friends have come from the ranks of AQSG members.

I will contine to post tributes and photos as I receive them.  

Karen in the Islands

PS: Please take a moment to review the additional tributes left in the comments field of this blog post as well. Pat Kyser's is especially poignant.


  1. Cinda bought so much to the British Quilt Textile history group on Yahoo.(BQTHL)
    The way she wrote you almost felt you had been at the meeting with her. Always informative with wonderful discription's of the quilts
    Although I never meet her I for one will miss her post's. My condolence's to her family.

  2. Reading Cinda's love letters (emails to some) about the quilts she met through the years is a treasured gift. I've missed those letters and now I've missed the opportunity to meet her.

    If someone has collected her letters, wondering if we might have an opportunity to reread them.

    To Cinda's family, my condolences.

  3. I "knew" Cinda only through a few email exchanges and her wonderful, wonderful descriptions of quilts. We are all the poorer for losing her.

    My sincere condolences to her family.


  4. I met Cinda more than 10 years ago. Those of us who were lucky enough to meet with her regularly and travel with her occasionally would have to agree that the best Cinda stories will not appear in blogs or anywhere online but will be told in small groups around a bottle of wine or in the car on the way to a quilt exhibit. I never met a more forthright person who remained so beloved by all who knew her well. You could count on Cinda for her honest opinion at all times.
    I will raise a toast to Cinda, for sure, she made a difference in my life! Her passion and confidence and bravery in the face of whatever negatives she encountered served as an example to all who knew her. Her pride in her family is well remembered. Her ability to cut through nonsense in a humorous manner will be part of our shared stories for many years.

  5. Alas, I joined the lists (and the ESQSG) just after Cinda moved to New York but I am certainly enjoying the legacy she left to us. I enthusiastically join you in saying the history lists and AQSG are a wonderful way to connect with quilt lovers and learn about the rich quilting heritage.

  6. I have some photos I'll send from Lowell AQSG - her study center on PA quilts - and her comment about them "Too much is never enough!" I was sorry she was unable to attend seminar in MN where she was to serve on a panel of quilt collectors. There is a hole in the quilt world which no one can quite fill with her gone. I feel privileged to have met her and worked with her on the AQSG Board for three years. She was knowledgeable, fun, honest and giving. My condolences to her family.
    Jean Carlton, Minnesota

  7. I only knew Cinda through the Quilt History List, but had a brief personal encounter when I was selling a complete set of Quilt Calendars back in 2009. We communicated and I set a price, but when her check arrived, it was for four times what I had asked. She sent a note saying I had no idea of the collection's value and she was sending a more realistic amount. I was reminded of the old saying that character is what one does when no one is looking and was tremendously impressed with this lady. My tender thoughts to her family.

  8. For Cinda's family and friends:

    People we love live for as long as we remember them.

    Everything we learned from them we pass on to others.

    That way they never die.


  9. she will be sadly missed

  10. Posting for Catherine Noll Litwinow:

    Cinda and I met in Williamsburg. My comment to her is that she was only the second Cinda I knew with the first my paternal grandmother Lucinda.

    I liked the comfortable dresses she wore and she let me know of her source.

    She drew nearer to my heart when we found double pink and cheddar two of our favorite colors.

    Her AQSG paper German Fraktur on quilts brought this Pennsylvania Dutch descendant another link closer.

    We could all visualize the fabulous quilts Cinda described for us from her study group.

    I just wished I had had my Saved for the People book autographed.

    Cinda will be missed.

    Catherine Noll Litwinow

  11. Posting for Lynn Lancaster Gorges of NC...

    When I think of Cinda I think of her quick wit and her infectious laugh. Each time I would run into her at a quilt event it was a wonderful time to catch up with an old friend. The miles, the time passed.........they never mattered. We always picked right up with chatting about our lives and our latest finds. We also had the special connection of The Staunch Family in New Bern. Dick Stauch had been John's camp counselor years ago and they had remained long time friends. Dick and I had just been talking about Cinda the week before when we saw each other at church.
    What a treasure to have called Cinda my friend. Lynn

  12. I never met Cinda in person but enjoyed her postings on QHL tremendously. I remember one time she had gone to a quilt exhibit in my hometown of Meadville, PA to see an exhibit of NW Pennsylvania quilts documented in Crawford County and subsequently published in the book "Threads of Tradition Northwest Pennsylvania Quilts". I emailed her because I couldn't believe she had traveled all the way from the eastern shore to see this small exhibit. She said her rule was she would travel 50 miles to see one quilt, so traveling all the way to NW PA to see this exhibit fit her criteria. What a treasure she was. I'll miss her too! Audrey Waite

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