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Story of an American heroine

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POSTED: October 2, 2008 5:00 a.m.
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Anne Giddens stands next to a few of the quilts she created.

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Editor’s note: Anne Giddens died Tuesday, just after this article was written and submitted. A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Monday at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.

I was introduced to Anne Giddens a few weeks ago. Little did I know she would turn out to be one of the most interesting people I’d ever met.
I belong to a group of senior ladies who meet once a week in the activity room of an Episcopal church to visit and play UNO. When a smiling, bespectacled lady walked into one of our gatherings, the ladies erupted into cheerful greetings and enthusiastic welcomes.
“Hi, Anne!”
“Nice to see you again.”
My friend, Dot M., introduced me.
“You know all of us except my friend Dottie K.,” Dot M. said to Anne. “We have been friends for several years.”
Anne and I exchanged greetings and the conversation continued.
“What’s in that blue and white tote you have with you?” Dot M. asked Anne. “I’ve known you for many years and I’ll bet it’s some crocheting or knitting. Am I right?”
“You’re right,” Anne answered. “I’m making another lap afghan for one of the wounded soldiers here at Fort Stewart’s Winn Army Hospital, or I’ll send it to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington.”
“What a nice idea,” Dot M. said. “Is this something new you are doing?”
“Well, not quite,” Anne said. “I made 75 lap quilts before I decided to do some crocheting instead of regular quilting.”
At home later that day, I realized I had to learn much more about this fascinating person — who she was, how did she get started on such a project, and I especially wondered about her background.
After a few meetings at the church, I asked Anne if I could visit her and learn enough to write a story. I felt others would be interested in her accomplishments. Anne readily agreed and we set a date.
On the day of our appointment, I drove up to a beautiful brick home in a wooded area filled with majestic oaks and tall pines at the end of a country road. Across the road, the shimmering water of a pond reflected the sun’s rays through the trees.
Anne welcomed me at the door and cheerfully invited me in. I followed her into a room that had a brick fireplace and two walls full of books and family photos. As I sat down, Anne gestured to my chair.
“There is one of the lap quilts, right there on the back of your chair,” she said. Sure enough, I turned to admire one of the red, white and blue quilts Anne made.
During our conversation that day, I learned Anne taught for 45 years — 31 with the Department of Defense Education Agency, 26 of which were spent with Diamond Elementary School on Fort Stewart; 14 in Texas public schools and 11 in Georgia. Her military career took her to Lapland, South Korea, and to Germany twice.
Anne began her lap quilt project when she read about a group of ladies who were making them. She was an accomplished quilt maker and wanted to try something different so, in 2002, she launched a new “career.”
I noted Anne seemed to busy herself working with her hands constantly.
“Well,” she explained, “my dear grandmother told me that idle hands were the devil’s workshop, so I have always kept my hands busy.”
In addition to her professional career, Anne was married in Germany, has
a son and daughter, one granddaughter and two grandsons, whom she says are the loves of her life. Anne also was a Girl Scout co-leader, service unit
secretary, treasurer and manager. She served as a trainer for the Girl Scouts and received a “thanks” badge for her efforts.
She also was a Cub Scout co-leader and board member.
To say the least, I grew more and more impressed with Anne.
“When have you ever had time to just sit and relax, Anne?” I asked her.
“Not often,” she replied, “but not matter how busy
I was, I could always pick up either my crocheting
or work on one of my endless supply of quilting projects.”
Researching and writing about Anne’s life
has been so interesting to me — I actually met a heroine.
I’m left with just one question: what kind of award — civilian or military — exists for such an incredible American citizen?

 

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