Go Giver: Jackie Simoneaux

Go Giver: Jackie Simoneaux

Ask Jackie Simoneaux, 76, about her favorite things and topping the list is quilting and her St. Nicholas home, where she sees the river and EverBank Field from her front porch.

A quilting enthusiast who discusses colors, fabrics and patterns as if they were delicious ingredients for a decadent dessert, Simoneaux and her friends will soon celebrate their 30th anniversary quilting together in the Friendship Quilters Guild.

Simoneaux said that it means a lot to her that they sew and quilt items to donate to hospitals, shelters and crisis centers to comfort men, women and children going through a difficult time. They hold annual quilt raffles and participate in events to raise funds for local charities. Simoneaux is a founding member of the group and newsletter editor.

“When I first started doing the newsletter, we had no computers and my husband wasn’t so sure it was a good idea…he said, ‘my dear, they don’t sell white-out by the gallon.’ We make an annual quilt that we raffle off at QuiltFest to benefit a different charity each year,” she said. “We are preparing now for QuiltFest 2014, Sept. 24-27 at the Convention Center, an open, judged show where we give demonstrations and wonderful quilts will be displayed.”

She first learned to sew in her high school home economics class and was thankful for it when she was home raising their three small children. She sewed all of their clothing and became interested in quilting in the early Sixties.

“I realized you can only have so many doilies, so I started ordering 10- or 25-cent quilting booklets to make quilts for our home and the children,” she said. “In 1972 when my husband retired from the Navy we bought our home and I joined the local Embroiderers Guild of America to make friends and meet other ladies with similar interests.”

Soon Simoneaux wanted to find out if her do-it-yourself quilts were “any good,” so she entered a few in a quilt show held at White Springs. That adventure started her on a serious quilting path.

“When I got to the quilt show, the quilts were all hung on a clothesline in a barn!” she said. “But the best part was that I met someone from Jacksonville there, who told me about Calico Station Quilt Shop and a quilters group. At that time the group was called the Orange Park Quilters Guild, but the ladies lived all over Jacksonville, so in 1986 it was changed to the Friendship Quilters Guild. It started with 37 women and now there are about 125, including a wide age range, individuals, couples and family groups.”

Simoneaux enjoys designing and repairing quilts and especially loves antique fabrics. She is hooked on antique quilts from the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s and is most proud of serving as volunteer regional coordinator for a major Florida History Museum quilt documentation project. The project documented hundreds of quilts in Jacksonville, lasted a year and culminated in publication of Florida Quilts in 1992.

Simoneaux and her husband Jules, 83, met while both were in the Navy and have been married 56 years. Jackie and Jules enjoy woodworking (they built their kitchen) and doing household projects and everything else together. Jules has been an emergency room volunteer at Memorial Hospital for five years and enjoys helping the families; Jackie says that is something they’ve always had in common.

By Julie Kerns Garmendia

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