Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Sewing much like tapestry of life

Life-long seamstress has learned to mend mistakes.

Betty Marquardt has sewn most of her life.

She learned the basics of stitching at the knee of her mother while growing up in Elm Creek. High school offered more lessons.

And opportunities to tear out many a stitch when she realized it wasn’t right.

“I’ve learned that when you make mistakes, you have to redo them ,” Marquardt said in the sun-filled dining room of her Gothenburg home. “But when you’re a kid, you don’t think of those things.”

These days, Marquardt is on the cusp of 74 and has plenty of time for reflection. One highlight of her life has been getting to know the people whose clothes she sews or alters.

“For at least 40 years, I’ve sewn for other people,” she said. “I’ve made some great friendships. Many people know me for that and it just grows.”

As a long-time seamstress, Marquardt said she now sews for the fourth generation of many families.

From Halloween costumes to wedding dresses, Marquardt has sewn the gamut.

Early on, she made many garments but today mostly alters ready-made clothes.

Using a thread and needle, or one of her three sewing machines, she experiences a feeling of accomplishment when she makes something fit or look better.

Sewing also brings joy to Marquardt while creating or fixing something and delight when she experiences a customer’s reaction.

The seamstress recalled a young bride-to-be who asked Marquardt to alter her wedding gown.

“After I did, she tried on the dress and came out beaming and said it was perfect,” Marquardt said. “That’s what you do it for.”

But times change and stores that carry sewing supplies are out-of-town which makes it challenging trying to find items like a zipper for a jacket, she said.

Despite the joy sewing has brought, Marquardt also knows sorrow.

“I do realize life can end quickly,” she said.

Her first husband, Norman Pelzer, died of a brain aneurysm at age 47, making her a widow at age 45 with five children.

The couple had been watching the “Carol Burnett Show” when he passed out in his recliner and never regained consciousness.

Earlier in the day, Pelzer had gone ice fishing with his best friend, Gene Shriver, which later brought comfort to Marquardt.

“If he could have chosen what to do on the last day of his life, that’s what he’d have chosen,” she said.

Her second husband, George Marquardt, died of complications from a liver transplant when he was 67.

Marquardt’s own life might have ended earlier than expected when she discovered that she too had an aneurysm in her brain.

Last November, she lost and regained consciousness. After a trip to the local hospital, Marquardt was sent to Kearney where they determined she had a bleeding ulcer.

Subsequent tests showed an aneurysm and she underwent surgery three months after the ulcer had healed.

“I felt like the Lord showed me I had the aneurysm,” Marquardt said about the ulcer. “And that I could do something about it.”

During the operation in Omaha, surgeons filled the bulge in the aneurysm with platinum coils to keep it from rupturing.

Marquardt stayed overnight in the hospital and recuperated at the home of a daughter who lives in Omaha.

So far, she’s received a clean bill of health to continue doing what she loves—sewing, making and maintaining relationships with friends and keeping customers satisfied.

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