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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Commercial Club has awarded the J.D. Simons Community Volunteer Award for 2020 to Susan Hill.
Hill, who grew up in Colfax and operates the Tapestry Trunk Bed and Breakfast, was nominated for her volunteer efforts around the community and her devotion to preserving Colfax history.
J.D. Simons was considered to be the founder of Colfax in 1864.
The J.D. Simons Award reads, “In honor of your dedication to ‘all things Colfax’ and your outstanding community involvement, your willingness to volunteer your time across many organizations and for many individuals, and most importantly — for making Colfax a better place to live.”
Mark Johnson, president of the Colfax Commercial Club, presented the award to Hill one day when she was in his shop, the Colfax Arts & Antique Mall.
Under normal circumstances, the Colfax Commercial Club would present the award at a community event, but with the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on gatherings to prevent the spread of the virus, a private presentation seemed like the best option, Johnson said.
“Sue Hill has devoted countless hours to volunteer efforts around the community for the American Legion Auxiliary, the Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group, at Colfax Health and Rehab and at her church. And without Sue, we would not have the Colfax History Room,” he said.
Hill has spent decades carefully acquiring, collecting, preserving and displaying the historical items in the Colfax History Room on the third floor of the Colfax Municipal Building.
Although there have been no events at the Colfax Municipal Building’s Cozy Theater in more than a year because of COVID-19, whenever there was an event in the past, such as Truth Be Told, a concert or a family movie, Hill always made sure the Colfax History Room was open.
According to the nomination for the J.D. Simons Award, “Sue Hill volunteers her talents in showing her many collections at the nursing home, at senior citizen events and at Merry Mixers. She is the vice president and the historian of the American Legion Post 131 Auxiliary, volunteers at her church, is a member of the Hill Grove Cemetery committee, and has helped at the pop-up food pantry.”
The nomination goes on to say, “She manages the History Room and has purchased many items for this area. She delivers May baskets to friends and neighbors and always has a smile. Her business, The Tapestry Trunk, provides needed space for persons visiting Colfax for many events. Her help as a member of the Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group is invaluable. Her extensive amount of Colfax and area genealogy is helpful to anyone tracing their roots.”
As another example of her devotion to preserving and acknowledging Colfax history, several years ago, Hill held a “quilt review” at The Tapestry Trunk Bed and Breakfast. She asked quilters in the Colfax area if they would be willing to bring either quilts they had made or quilts in their possession.
Quilts that showed up at the event included one made by Jennie Chase, who, along with her husband A.C. Chase, founded the Colfax Messenger in 1897.
All together, there were 53 quilts, and that was not counting the table runners, wall hangings and other quilted items people brought.
Another quilt on display, a Double Wedding Ring design, belonged to Hill and had been acquired at a Norton Church bazaar 30-some years ago.
Yet another of the quilts, a Dresden Plate design, had been made by Hill’s grandmother, Martha Rosenberg Hill.
Another quilt at the Quilt Review was from Popple Creek Church. The quilt is inscribed in stitching with the names of church members and includes Beyrers and Buchners.
Local quilt maker Pat Eggert brought a number of quilts for the event, including a Friendship Star quilt and one quilt named Cranberry Chutney.
Colfax resident Sally Johnson bought three quilts and was currently making Valor quilts.
The quilts on display included those made of well-known historical patterns, and quilts named for an image or a feeling they invoked.
One year just before Christmas, Hill also displayed a variety of Nativity sets at The Tapestry Trunk and invited the public to view them. The Nativity sets included many from her own collection but also Nativity sets belonging to other Colfax residents.
Hill also has generously shared her many collections by giving programs about them for the Merry Mixers Senior Citizens at the Grapevine Senior Center.
Hill’s collections include aprons, handkerchiefs, buttons, handbags, Valentines, Easter eggs, and thimbles.
Her presentations begin with an historical overview of the type of item and then presentation of the individual items. Many of the items have been in Hill’s family for years or are items she has collected over the years, and many of the items have historical significance because they once belonged to long-time Colfax residents.
According to the nomination form for the J.D. Simons Community Volunteer Award, “The distinction of being the founder of Colfax goes to a man named John D. Simons. As a businessman and philanthropist, he was one of the most influential characters in the early history of this locality, and many a poor man could point to him as the man who ‘helped him out’ in time of dire distress. Beginning with Mr. Simons, there have been many business owners and residents that have carried on the values of volunteering, supporting and promoting the village of Colfax. In this spirit of volunteerism, the Colfax Commercial Club is seeking to recognize an ‘unsung hero’ in our community.”
The 2019 J.D. Simons Community Volunteers were Claudia and Kyle Kressin.
The 2018 J.D. Simons Community Volunteer was Mona Thorson.
The 2017 J.D. Simons Community Volunteers were Geri and Ernie Bates.
The 2016 J.D. Simons Community Volunteer was Troy Knutson.
J.D. Simons Community Volunteer Award recipients receive a plaque, and a name plate is placed on a plaque on display in the Colfax Municipal Building.