Barbie Butz e1607969318124
Barbie Butz is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at

Often, when people pass, they leave us wonderful memories of them that we cherish the rest of our lives. I want to tell you about a special woman, Virginia Allen, who not only left wonderful memories but left samples of her creative talent for us to enjoy for years to come. She was a quilter, and those of you who quilt know how much of you goes into each quilt you produce.

Virginia made dozens of quilts, and many of them she donated to nonprofits for fundraisers. They were works of art and are still enjoyed and appreciated by their owners.

I first met Virginia when she joined Quota of Atascadero in 2003. She had moved to Atascadero in 1974 to live near her son and daughter-in-law, Jim and Janet Stecher. She was also an active member of Chapter VF of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) and attended the First Methodist Church of Atascadero.

Virginia was always most comfortable in front of a sewing machine; by the time she was 12, she made much of her own clothing and, in her twenties, worked for a tailor creating wedding dresses. Her interest in quilting began after she moved to Atascadero. She eventually purchased an embroidery machine, and her quilts became even more elaborate. She shared her love of sewing with her “Stitch and Bitch” sewing group and attended meetings faithfully.

She continued to quilt into her early 90s with patience and loving help from Lynn, the owner of the Sew Fun Sewing shop in Atascadero. She would spend 1 or 2 days every week working on quilts at the shop.

Virginia Allen loved to give back to her community, and donating her quilts for fundraisers was a way of achieving that. Although Virginia passed in 2019 at the age of 95, her legacy lives on through her beautiful quilts.

Jim and Janet Stecher have donated one of Virginia’s quilts to the Atascadero Performing Arts Center Committee (APACC) for a fundraiser. Proceeds will be used toward APACC’s goal of providing a performing arts theater in Atascadero.

The quilt is approximately 68” by 90” and on display at Karen McNamara’s shop, Hope Chest Emporium, located at 5800 El Camino Real. The fundraiser is auction-style, with the opening bid at $250 and increments of $25. Bidding opened on Mar. 26 and will close Mother’s Day, May 9, at 4:30 p.m.

This is a “must-see” work of art. If you are a quilter, you will love seeing the detail Virginia put into it. If you are to a quilter, you will be “in awe” of her work!

For more information, visit or visit the APACC Facebook page.

Speaking of fundraising, a group of 7 special Atascadero women have published a wonderful little book titled “Pivotal Moments,” Memoirs from Boomer Women.
All of the women are members of the Atascadero Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Proceeds from the book will help the Branch fund its community programs.

Their memoirs include adventures, challenges, losses, and triumphs. According to Lynne Martin, author, “Tales ranging from teenage courting angst to online dating at 70, from lighthearted romps to deeply-felt revelations enliven this charming volume of essays by a memoir-writing group on California’s Central Coast.”

The women include Marilyn Hamilton, Liz Helgerson, Myra Lathrop, Eileen O’Grady, Martha Staib, Shirley Summers, and Linda Zirk. They have met monthly for five or so years, working as a writing group, and are to be congratulated for this inspiring and “insightful look into the lives of mature women from very different backgrounds.”

The book sells for $16.95 and is available on Amazon. For more information about AAUW, visit or call Linda Hansen at (805)466-1068.

Here’s a quick recipe for a salmon spread. Enjoy!

Salmon Pâté
1 can (about 7¾ ounces) sockeye salmon, drained
½ cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh dill
Salt and white pepper, to taste

Remove skin and bones from salmon; flake with a fork. Combine the first six ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a small crock or serving dish. Refrigerate, covered, until firm.

Serve with crackers, rye crisp, or pumpernickel bread.

Happy Easter. Enjoy our great weather.