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Shirley I. Thomas

Date of Birth: 
Date of Death: 

Shirley was named after that sweet adorable girl that could always make us smile in the good times and in the bad times, Shirley Temple Black. Shirley Thomas, much like Ambassador Black, always, “…kept her chin up…” Mom or Shirley made many quilts, many she appliquéd. So a quilt block as a memorial is fitting. It is thought that she made around 80 quilts. I picked the popular quilt pattern the Dresden plate because I think of her when I see one, maybe because it was one of Mom’s favorite. It reflects most everything mom liked and her up-bring background. The Dresden plate dates back to the romance of the Victorian Era with its love of elaborate decoration on household items and décor. Dresden, Germany was a center of 19th century romanticism movement of art. It included the fine decoration of porcelain and china. The plates were embellished with elaborate design using flowers, fruits and foliage. The beautiful plates would surely have been admired by women of the early 20th century. This represents so much a part of Mom and she passed that love of china on to her daughters. She played competitive badminton in college and bowled on an all ladies league for many years. She played bridge and pinnacle in various ladies card clubs over the years. She attended the New Brunswick Picnic Association, NBPA, meetings, a social group of families that moved to Michigan in the early fifties with the start of making of the many freeways. She was the secretary for many years. The NMPA hosted an annual picnic potluck every September that she loved to attend. She loved Christmas and everything about the season. She would start early with outdoor lights and continue inside with all the trimmings. She would bake sweets, cookies, squares and pies for sharing all season long. She did love to sew. She sewed our clothes as small children. I remember the Bing Crosby movie “White Christmas” in the final scene the actresses all were dressed in red velvet dresses. She reproduced those for each of us girls one year. Each red velvet dress was trimmed in white rabbit fur. She made bridesmaid dresses, prom dresses, and draperies for her living room and dining room. She was handy at sewing crafts projects of all sorts. Crafts like macramé, crewel stitch, counted dross stitch. She also did many ceramic projects. She was an avid reader. The quilt block has buttons to represent each family set. Herself and her first love and husband for 55 years Ray Thomas is placed at the middle spike. The families included are her four daughters. Her Mom and Dad are on the right and her Brother and his Wife are on the left. The buttons in the middle represent her eye’s, the cornea’s of which was her contribution. The buttons are from garments that she and her brother, mother, dad and likely grandparents wore. They were saved for generations after the depression when nothing was wasted. The Dresden plate quilts pieces are left over from a project she worked on. The material is from a costume she made for a Canada Day Special Celebration. The three spikes of the plated are for her three places where her spirit still lives: Carlton County, New Brunswick, Canada; Troy, Michigan, United States of America; and Heaven. I heard her say when I was in grade school, “When I am through needing this body I have hopes that someone else may benefit from what the lord has blessed me with.” We miss you… Shirley… Sister … Wife… Mom…Grammie…Aunt… Cousin… Friend… and Neighbor… For we now must share you with those who have also called you by these names and more, like: Niece…Daughter… and Granddaughter.
-- Rayma Bilick