Saturday, November 30, 2013

Grandpa Quilter

Josh's Grandpa Karl Quilter passed away last night, rather unexpectedly.  He had recently undergone surgery on his back, and has just been discharged from the rehab care center.

I first met Grandpa Quilter when Josh and I had just begun dating.  Their family had a little celebration dinner for Adrienne, who had just graduated from BYU, and Josh invited me to join them.  I snapped a photo of their whole family (secretly wanting it so my family could see a picture of Josh), and had a wonderful conversation with Karl and Verna, Josh's grandparents.  When I asked him that night what I should call him, he said, "Oh, you call me Grandpa."  They are both such warm, interesting, loving people.

Grandma & Grandpa Quilter

Grandpa Quilter was always a wonderful artist.  As a young boy, he used to improve his grades by giving drawings to his teachers, who would somehow forget about his incomplete assignments!  He was thrilled when he learned I was a school teacher. :)  It was a high school english teacher who told him, "You're not going to paint your way through this class."  She demanded excellence from him, and he learned to work hard both IN the art room and OUT of it.  He painted all through high school, until a perceptive teacher noticed his ability to sculpt with clay.  She said, "Don't paint," and directed his focus to sculpting.  I often wonder where we would be without amazing teachers!

He described the process of sculpting happens for him.  He said, "All I'm doing is pushing the clay in the position,...transferring it from (my head) to (my hands).  It literally happens."

He studied under a famous sculptor named Avard Fairbanks at the University of Utah.  Grandpa called him a "master teacher".  He was recommended by Fairbanks to sculpt the oxen in three of the temples' baptismal fonts.  Then in 1978, the church commissioned him to sculpt a new Angel Moroni statue for the temples.  Working with a few other artists, they used a process of casting the mold in fiberglass, which made the angels lighter, as well as less expensive.    Then again in 1998, the church again commissioned him to design a smaller angel for the smaller temples!  Grandpa's "angels" are used on over 110  temples around the world.


When I was serving as a Relief Society president, we had Grandpa come in and speak about his experiences.  Many of the older sisters there knew him well, as served for 25 years as a seminary teacher.  They were so thrilled to have him come!  I can still remember the excitement surrounding that event.  It was like having a rockstar visit our church building.  I have never been to a relief society meeting so well-attended!  

One wonderful conversation I had with Grandpa I will never forget.  We had just had Boo, and finances were so tight.  I was using up my maternity leave at school, but struggling with the decision to remain home, or return to teaching and a steady paycheck.  I mentioned this difficult decision to Grandpa.  He smiled and looked soberly in my eyes and said, "Amy, no one can be a mother to your children like YOU can."  I'm so grateful he said that.  I will never forget how it made me feel.  So empowered and important.  I felt validated and essential to my child's life and rearing.  I've recalled it many more times in different circumstances.  It's gotten me through many frustrating days.  

Annette and her Dad

Grandpa, watching the great-grandkids "performing".

I'm grateful for wonderful parents and grandparents, which bless our lives.  I was lucky enough to marry into Grandpa's family, but I'm so thankful for the legacy he leaves behind - both physical and spiritual.


Sarah said...

Just read an article of him on They had many neat pictures, but certainly not your personal stories. Sounds like a great man.

Sally said...

Sorry for your loss. He sounds like and amazing man!