2019 Navy Volunteer of the Year
“There is always a warmth from something given that is hand made with love.” –Katie Barron
Katie Barron who we know and love as the sweet, warm and nurturing “Katie the Quilt Lady” began quilting in 1989. Katie’s love of quilting started with the influence of her Mother and maternal Grandmother. Katie’s Mother handmade her dresses for grade-school seeking Katie’s input for each garments color scheme. Katie’s grandmother ignited her passion for quilting by incorporating fabrics Katie selected for her dresses into quilts. To this day, Katie has several keepsake quilts of her Grandmothers that she cherishes as “she knows the labor of love she put into each of them” to keep their family warm during harsh Pennsylvania winters.
The theme of “a labor of love” continued to inspire Katie by way of her husband demonstrating the highest level of commitment and sacrifice retiring after 35 years as a Dentist in the Navy. During his career, the Barron’s moved 18 times until they stationed in San Diego, where they would create their forever home. In 1989, around the time Katie began quilting, she needed something to keep busy and to feel worthwhile, so she joined a Dental Wives Group who began sewing and quilting “comfort quilts”. Comfort quilts were created to provide ease to its recipient during times of medical crisis. “I think the Military wife in me saw the need for something to hang on to [for military families], so far from home in most cases,” says Katie. Katie realized that a quilt could serve as that tangible thing for service members and their families staying at the Fisher House.
Beginning in 1992, Katie began sewing quilts for 9 rooms/families, at any given time, staying at Fisher House I in San Diego, and continued to do so for 16 years. By 2008, Katie was sewing quilts for 18 rooms/families, at any given time, with the addition of Fisher House II. From humble roots in 1992 to “mass” production in 2019, Katie has dedicated her volunteerism solely to serve Fisher House San Diego families, that is, with the exception of her next of kin. Katie has three children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren all who find comfort in her quilts. To Katie, “there is nothing better than a comfort quilt to make one relax and know someone really cares about what they are going through.”
Katie creates quilts motivated by her love of colors, harmonizing materials, and simple patterns. She takes time and care in finding a balance of pinks, blues, yellows and greens to create quilts for babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, children in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and their siblings staying at the Fisher House. Patriotic quilts of red, white, and blue fabrics are created for adults staying at the Fisher House or for their adult patients in the Intensive Care Unit, Wards, or Emergency Room. No one quilt is alike, although, you will find a commonality in the corner of each quilt: a small American flag stitched in the corner, signed in embroidery with “Katie Barron” and the year the quilt was made. Katie reminds us with her trademark that “there is always a warmth from something that is hand made with love.”
This is all a testament to Katie’s unwavering commitment to a cause that is near and dear to her heart, honoring her husband, her father-in-law, and two brother-in-law’s who served in the military whilst paying tribute to her mother and grandmother by continuing their quilting legacies.
“I hope that each quilt provides each person with comfort in a small way. It is my way and I love what I do.”