Our spotlight this month shines on our wonderful volunteer Kay Derner. Kay is an extremely talented lady who has spent the last two years volunteering her time on Mondays at our art loft guiding our quilting group. She grew up in Excelsior, as did her mother’s side of the family. She is recognized in the area by the Excelsior Historical Society for her family’s longtime lineage. Kay was also the owner of one of the most popular shops in Waconia; Heavenly Patchwork Quilt Shop.
Kay’s career began in the printing business where she worked for over 30 years. Upon losing her job and not being ready to retire, Kay decided to turn her favorite hobby and talent into a business. She owned and operated Heavenly Patchwork from 2003 -2013. In that time, she wore many hats, as most small business owners do; from balancing the books to buying beautiful fabrics for her shop. Kay was also very close to her clientele. She loved working one on one with each person that came to her shop. She also enjoyed hosting fun filled quilting events. She had a staff of roughly 6 part-time women, along with her creative daughter, by her side to help with day to day operations.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and Kay retired from her quilting business in 2013. Closing her shop was by no means an easy decision to make. After 10 years in business, Kay not only had regular clients, but she had formed close friendships with many. To give you an idea how popular Kay and her store had become, the local Sun Patriot wrote an article which headlined the newspaper, “Local Quilters Morn Closing of Beloved Shop.”
Again, not being ready to sit idle quite yet, Kay was on the hunt for her next adventure. While volunteering at the Excelsior Historical Society, Kay reconnected with an old friend from her alma mater Minnetonka High School. It was Jane, Sally’s sister, who mentioned the need for a volunteer who could teach quilting at the art loft. Kay jumped at the chance to once again share her expertise with others. “I love helping people. I have an outgoing personality and love meeting new people,” explains Kay. Indeed, after spending even a few minutes with Kay, you feel like you’ve known her your whole life. She makes her “students” feel at ease and is patient with everyone she teaches.
When Kay is not volunteering at Sojourn and quilting, she spends time with family and friends. It is easy to see how important family is to Kay. She has three grown children and eight grandchildren ranging in age from 9 – 23. She also loves to collect pieces of her family’s history that date back to their voyage on the Mayflower. If you ask her about her maternal grandfather, A.W Latham, a spark lights up in her eye. Not only is the Latham house on the historical registry in Excelsior, but her grandfather was a well-known horticulturist more specifically known for his own variety of raspberry.
We are beyond blessed to have Kay Derner as a member of our Sojourn family. Her gift of creativity and caring personality have touched us all in many ways.