American Quilter's Society

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American Quilter's Society
PO Box 3290
Paducah, KY 42002-3290

Toll-free (for orders only, please):
Phone: 270-898-7903
Fax: 270-898-1173

Physical Street Address for UPS/FedEx Shipments Only:
5801 Kentucky Dam Road Paducah, KY 42003-9323

Quilting Community AQS News

AQS Remembers Helen Lester Thompson

Nationally Recognized Quilt Authority

by Christine N. Brown

Helen Lester Thompson’s love of quilting spanned nearly four decades of dedication to the national quilting community as a teacher, lecturer, author, collector, dealer, curator, certified judge, and certified appraiser. Helen’s quilting career began in 1970, when she and Julie Powell opened a quilt shop together in Iowa City called “Sew Let’s Quilt” where they also taught quilting. The next thirty years of her life would be spent in support and promotion of quilting in America.

Her talents and expertise were in high demand throughout the 1980s and 1990s, when she was involved with many quilting organizations and projects. Helen contributed her time and knowledge of quilting to the Kentucky Quilt Documentation Project in 1981. During this time she also established lifelong relationships with the National Quilting Association and the American Quilter’s Society. She acted as a consultant to AQS since its establishment and was one of eight professional appraisers who developed and established the Quilt Appraiser Certification Program for AQS. She acted as administrator for the appraisal program in 1990 and 1994. Helen served as an NQA certified quilt judge since 1982 and held the Judges Chair from 1982 to 1986. Helen also held the office of President of NQA from 1986 to 1988. She served on the board of directors for Gatherings: America’s Quilt Heritage from 1990 to 1995, while also serving on the founders’ board of directors for the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society from 1991 to 2003. Other contributions include service to the University of Kentucky Art Museum and the Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society. Helen served as curator for two exhibits at the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society: Common Threads: Antique Quilts from the Miriam Tuska Collection, and Quilted Memories of Kentucky which included quilts from the Kentucky Historical Center in Frankfort, the Kentucky Museum at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, as well as from private collections.

From 1990 to 1997 Helen partnered with Julie Powell and Kathlyn Sullivan as a dealer for Vintage Textiles and Tools. When that project ended, Helen decided to open her own business, A Sewing Legacy, which she ran until her death. Amazingly, in spite of the countless hours of contributions and services to quilting in this country, Helen also found time to author many articles on quilting published by various quilting magazines, as well as a book in two volumes, Sewing Tools & Trinkets, Collector Books, 1997 and 2002.

Helen Lester Thompson died December 26, 2007 in Lexington, KY at the age of 78. She was a loving wife, mother of five children, and grandmother of eight grandchildren. She enjoyed a life filled with quilting and a passion for service. Her loss will leave a void in the quilting community and in the hearts of her friends and family that will be felt for years to come.