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Pa. woman enriches lives with gifts of quilts

August 15, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - It's obvious looking around Hetty Flasher's home that she is not a wealthy woman, but enriching the lives of others for more than 70 years with her nimble fingers has rewarded her with riches of a different kind.

Flasher, 76, is a quilt maker. By her own count, the Waynesboro, Pa., woman has crafted more than 240 quilts since she made her first one when she was a little girl.

Flasher records all the quilts she's made over the decades and who they went to. Her quilts run from bed-size to doll-size and everything in between.

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She said she has sold only three quilts in her life. She was paid $125 for a bed-size quilt and $20 for two that were small enough to fit in a crib. "I only took the money because the people insisted," Flasher said.

She gives them away - to relatives and friends, to be used as fund-raisers for charities, to fellow members of her Blue Rock United Brethren Church, to people confined to wheelchairs and even, occasionally, to strangers.

This year she made quilts for five area high school graduates, "so they'll have something to keep them warm when they go away to college," she said.

"Nobody ever asks me for a quilt," she said. "I just know when they need one, like when someone is going to have a baby. I know they're going to need a quilt."

Hand-stitched quilts of the quality that Flasher creates often sell for $500 or more. "I always think how much (money) I'd have if I charged just $50 apiece," she said.

It wasn't a lament. The smiles on the faces of those lucky enough to get one is thanks enough, she said. "If I was to give you one of my quilts you'd smile and say 'thank you.' Money can't buy that," she said.

People often donate money to Flasher to pay for materials. "Sometimes I find a box of material that has been left on my back porch," she said.

Flasher has received several honors for her generosity, including a proclamation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and a medal from the American Institute of Public Service.

Flasher said she "was in the middle" of a family of 14 children, half of whom were girls, she said.

One brother, Samuel Cordell, was killed in action in Italy in World War II. Two photographs of him in his Army uniform sit on a table in her parlor as a family memorial.

Her husband, Vincent Flasher, died in 1988. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

She and her sisters learned to quilt by helping their mother and grandmother, she said.

Flasher makes the quilts at her kitchen table, sitting alone with her thoughts, cutting out the patches with scissors. "I don't mind being alone. I get enjoyment out of it," she said.

The work has kept her fingers nimble and arthritis-free, she said, wiggling them to prove her point. She wears glasses but said her eyes are still good. "It amazes me that I can still do it. I'll keep on making quilts as long as I can."

Flasher spent 42 years sewing in factories in the Waynesboro area, including 25 years in a local shoe factory.

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