The 26-year retirement for Pat Evans, who now lives at Parkstone Place Retirement Center in North Little Rock, has been more of a transition more than a ceasing of activity. She and her husband, Charles, have kept quite active.
Both the Evans retired from the Pulaski County Special School District in 1987 as educators. Charles said he was able to catch up on one of his favorite hobbies – fishing. Pat said she would go along on Charles’ fishing trips to Florida and different areas but the long hours of her husband’s hobby got a bit boring.
So she re-visited a hobby and craft that had existed in her family for at least two generations – quilting.
"I had sown for many years," Pat said. "I have a daughter and would make all of her clothes."
Quilting ran in her family growing up on the family farm in Walcott. Her mother, Essie May, made quilts along with her grandmother, Dora Newsome.
"I grew up in a quilting family," Pat said. "Since retiring, I have almost done it full time."
Pat remembers the many fishing trips she and Charles would take shortly after their retirement. "We would go in our RV and he would fish and I would be left in the park," she said. "We had a motor home. That is where I picked up quilting. It became a good past time."
Charles said he liked Pat’s interest in quilting because when some of his fishing trips would take too many hours it didn’t upset his wife because she would be busy quilting.
"She was not into the fishing," Charles said.
Pat added, "I didn’t’ like the boat. I can’t swim. So when Charles would go out fishing, I would quilt."
Pat said it takes about six months for her to complete a quilt.
The couple moved to Parkstone Place in July due to health issues. They decided to move to a retirement center so it would be easier for a watchful eye to be kept on them.
The Evans’ have two grown children: Chad Evans of Vilonia, who owns City Market Grocery Stores; and Michelle Clark, a supervisor in the Jacksonville City Waterworks Department.
She began experimenting with quilting two years before she retired and didn’t finish her first one until two years later.
"I saw a pattern for the quilt at my mother’s house and I wanted one like it," Pat said. "I worked on it for two years. After that I was hooked."
She named her first quilt "A Trip Around the World." She has made quilts for many members of her family, including her children and grandchildren, as well as her personal friends.
She worked on quilt patters with her mother until she passed away in 2008. While the mother-daughter combination didn’t work on quilts together, one of the ladies would work on a portion of the project in her home near Paragould while Pat would do her part in Jacksonville.
Pat’s mother lived within a few weeks of her 100th birthday.
Pat’s mother and sisters would work on quilting much closer together because Pat was the sibling who decided to relocate to Central Arkansas while the rest of her family opted to say in the Paragould area.
Pat said she never named her favorite quilt, a creation she says she would have a hard time giving up.
"I held it so long in my lap," Pat said, saying she stitched the images of three cows because they reminded her of the family farm she grew up on.
"My father, Bid May, was a farmer," Pat said. "We had cows that they milked. We had animals, horses, pigs. It was a regular farm. Daddy raised cotton and we had to pick."
Pat said the family tradition that has lasted for three generations may not continue into the fourth.
"My daughter doesn’t care for it," said Pat, speaking of quilting. "My daughter-in-law doesn’t care about it. I had one grandchild who said she would like to try it but not yet."