MHS Class of ’63 honors veterans

Eleven members of the MHS Class of 1963 were presented with Quilts of Valor during their reunion, honoring their service as veterans. Seated in front from left are Kenneth Rupp, Forrest Oelberg, Michael Plueger, Charlie Rigby, Marvin Goldsmith, and Northeast Iowa QOV Coordinator Cyndy Billmeyer. Standing, Carolann (Wears) Fairchild, who made each quilt; Larry Meier, Glen Tobiason, Roger Picray, Grant Wilken, Stephen Picray, Larry Ray, and QOV volunteer Marilyn Rothenberger. Absent were Harvey Johnson and Michael Tuel.

Marvin Goldsmith, veteran and member of the MHS Class of ’63, receives a Quilt of Valor and certificate thanking him for his service. The Class of ’63 held a reunion on Sept. 28 in Monticello. (Photos by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

It was a full house as classmates and their significant others gathered on Sept. 28 for the class reunion of the Monticello High School Class of 1963. 

This reunion was special, as numerous classmates who are veterans received a coveted Quilt of Valor (QOV). 

Classmate Carolann (Wears) Fairchild spent about two months prior to the reunion making each quilt herself. She took pride in picking out the fabric and patterns so that each quilt was unique for the veterans. Each quilt contains an eagle and the U.S. Flag somewhere within the design. 

“I feel these are the symbols of America,” said Fairchild. I have always been very patriotic.” 

Before retiring, Fairchild worked as a nurse, and took care of veterans at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. She also practiced for 22 years at the veterans’ hospital (VA Central Iowa Health Care System) in Des Moines. 

Fairchild bought a QOV kit, with the intention of presenting just one quilt to a veteran during her class reunion. However, after doing some research and digging, she realized there were actually 13 classmates who were veterans. 

“Since I started this, I was now committed to making all of the quilts,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoyed creating each and every quilt I made, and got more excited as I went.” 

The list of veterans from the Class of 1963 who received quilts include: 

• Grant Wilken 

• Roger Picray 

• Michael Plueger 

• Glen Tobiason 

• Marvin Goldsmith 

• Forrest Oelberg 

• Larry Ray 

• Charlie Rigby 

• Kenneth Rupp 

• Harvey Johnson 

• Stephen Picray 

• Larry Meier 

• Michael Tuel 

QOV were also donated to the QOV Foundation in honor of Gordon Dierks and Lawrence Rigby, both deceased veterans from the Class of 1963. 

“I am so proud of our armed forces and what we stand for and am thoroughly thankful for their sacrifices,” expressed Fairchild. 

Her husband also served in the Army and Air Guard. 

“It takes a lot of family cooperation to allow the guardsmen to do their duties,” added Fairchild. “I feel every person serving our country deserves a quilt and recognition.” 

Cyndy Billmeyer, a Northeast Iowa QOV coordinator, and Marilyn Rothenberger, a QOV volunteer, were on hand to help Fairchild present the quilts. Billmeyer also gave some background on the QOV Foundation. 

“While each QOV is awarded to our veterans, we also express a heartfelt thank you to your wives and families,” read Billmeyer. “You may not have been on the battle lines or on the seas of the world, but you were the silent strength during those times and sacrificed just as much…” 

Billmeyer became involved with QOV after her son, SSG Rich Billmeyer, lost is legs in Afghanistan in 2011. 

“This is my way of honoring my son’s sacrifices, as well as yours,” she said. 

QOV was started in 2003 by a Blue Star Mom and quilt maker, Catherine Roberts, of Seaford, Del. Her son was deployed to Iraq. The first QOV was awarded in 2006. Today, more than 227,500 quilts have been presented throughout the U.S. 

Billmeyer explained the three layers of a QOV: 

• The top of the quilt, with its many shapes, colors, and fabrics, represents the many communities the veterans come from. 

• The center layer is the batting that represents warmth, comfort, peace and healing. 

• The backing is the strength. It holds everything together. 

“Each QOV is a lifetime award, our foundation’s equivalent of the Purple Heart,” said Billmeyer. 

Aside from a quilt, each veteran also received a certificate, recognizing their service to the nation. 

Each Vietnam veteran also received the Vietnam War Commemorative lapel pin, honoring the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.


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