PEQUOT LAKES - Arlean Rosemore is around 73 years old.
The spitfire grandma claims she can't remember exactly how old she is. But don't think this senior's mind is starting to slip.
Last month she got her GED after dropping out of high school 56 years ago.
Through the years Rosemore took care of ailing family members, forcing her to put her life on hold.
"I've taken care of everybody so now I'm going to do something for myself," she said of her decision to get her GED. "I had to brush up on a lot of things. Fifty years is a long time to be out of school."
Arlean Rosemore has quilted since she was 15 years old. The Pequot Lakes woman is renowned for her quilting and opened a quilt shop last month next to her home.
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Rosemore grew up on a hobby farm in Floodwood. When her dad was forced to go to work for financial reasons and her brother was drafted, she had to run the farm.
"I was the oldest son," she said. "It's not every day you see a 15 year old girl running a farm."
They had cattle, pigs, chickens and huge gardens. She and her younger siblings managed the farm while their mother worked inside the home.
When she wasn't tending to the farm, Rosemore quilted. She learned by asking around at neighboring farms and the local nursing home.
A woman in the nursing home named Julia lived to be 104 years old, Rosemore said.
"She made quilts for men in the Civil War," she said.
Rosemore worked on her family's farm for a few years before getting married and having children of her own. She had five children and her husband was an over-the-road truck driver. She bought two farms and rented five others, relying on her farming background to help pay the bills.
"We'd work in the fields all day and then come home and quilt," she said of her and her young children.
Even her sons were quilters. When any of the children misbehaved, their punishment was to cut quilt blocks.
They made hundreds of quilts, using them themselves and giving many away.
Today Rosemore, now living in Pequot Lakes, continues to quilt, all day, every day.
She built a quilt shop onto the side of her house and opened for business last month. She sells fabric and quilting supplies and also restores damaged quilts.
"Not many other people can or will attempt that," she said. "I've restored quilts for people all over the world."
Rosemore said she can almost always match fabrics used in antique quilts to patch holes or tears. She's been saving fabric for years and has it stored all around her house.
Inside her small rural Pequot Lakes home 16 quilts cover the walls. Now she gives away most of the quilts she makes.
Quilts for Kids is a charity the Rosemore family started in order to donate their wares to children in crisis situations. Rosemore said all local emergency responders are equipped with quilts to give to children in need of some homemade comfort. Rosemore said she's sent quilts all over the world to benefit children.
"I've sent them to every continent except Antarctica and Australia," she said.
The quilts given out for Quilts for Kids are made with pictures drawn by other youths, then transferred onto fabric and eventually sewn into a quilt.
For the last 15 years Rosemore has demonstrated how to make these quilts at the Minnesota State Fair. Other quilts Rosemore has made have been put on display and even used in photographs for quilting magazines.
Her pride and joy is a massive Monopoly game she quilted - the game board, money, dice, game pieces and property cards are all quilted - that took five years or 1,200 hours of hand sewing to complete. Since then she's made Candyland, chess and checker games. She's currently working on Risk.
How does this 70-something-year-old stay enthused with a hobby she's had for so long?
"I have to keep my enthusiasm down," she said. "I'm always three projects ahead of myself."
HEIDI LAKE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5879.
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