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Heavenly collection continues to grow

March 06, 1998


Staff Writer

Thirty-eight years ago, Patricia "Pat" Gebhart bought her first angel, a figurine with a head made of china. Today, her Hagerstown home is alive with approximately 230 of the winged messengers.

Each year around the holidays, Gebhart arranges most of her angels on a table in the living room and keeps them on display until February. "I guess the angels will sing all year this year, because I haven't had a chance yet to put them away," she said in an interview at her home.

Gebhart was wearing angel earrings, a swinging-angel pin, and a delicate angel bracelet given her by husband Richard.

"Actually, I never intended to start collecting angels," Gebhart said. "I started getting them as gifts, and it just grew from there."


Grow it did. Gebhart's angels range in size from one-half inch high to 3 feet high. They are made of everything from wood to ceramic.

Gebhart has angel wall plaques and music boxes, angel globes, angel eggs, angel night lights, angel candles and an angel clock.

In a corner of her living room, away from the rest of the collection, an angel sits ready to have tea with Mickey and Minnie Mouse and a Boyd's Bear. They will drink out of tiny angel-head tea cups.

Gebhart said she is so overwhelmed with her multitudes of angels that she rarely buys them anymore. But they keep arriving just the same - from relatives, friends, and co-workers at Washington County Hospital, where she works in the radiology department.

Although she has no favorite angel, some in her collection have special meaning. Gebhart picked up an angel with a cracked ceramic face. She said her late son Jeffrey Hillegas was in sixth grade when he came home, looked at the angel, and said, "It has acne just like I do!"

"So I didn't get it fixed," Gebhart said, laughing.

Jeffrey once looked at a blond-haired, blue-eyed angel dressed in red, and told Gebhart, "No doubt about it. She's a street lady."

Many others given to her by daughter Patrice Kifer hold a special place in Gebhart's heart.

Some angels have even brought out the angel of mercy in Gebhart. She held up a small figurine with ear-length blond hair. "Her hair was going every-which way," she said. "I said, 'You must be a motherless angel' and I took her home and combed her hair."

She bandaged a crack in the wooden head of one of her angels. In a way the crack reminded her of the fact that her son, who died in 1993, was bi-polar.

Patrice and Jeffrey are Gebhart's children from her first marriage. After living several years as a single mother, Gebhart married Richard three years ago. The couple had two tall angels made to stand in the front of the church during the ceremony.

One of Gebhart's most unusual angels came from the hospital gift shop. "I couldn't figure out what kind of angel she was supposed to be at first," Gebhart said. "She's carrying a "hospital bag" in one hand, and a baby book under her arm. I looked at her and realized she's pregnant - I'd say about 5 months pregnant. She's a 'domestic angel'. With my luck she'll have triplets," Gebhart said with a laugh.

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