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A dedicated volunteer

By Marilyn Brinkman of St. Joseph

Delrose Fischer was chosen as the 4th of July St. Joe festival queen in 2021 because of the large amount of volunteering she does, and has done over the years for the parish at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

Every year from August to March, the St. Joseph parish quilters gather on Monday mornings to hand-quilt about 26 king, queen, double, and baby-size quilts for the annual parish 4th of July festival and quilt auction.

Every Monday from August to March, Delrose can be found coordinating the quilting activities in the Gathering Place at the parish. Delrose has been quilting for St. Joseph’s since 1986, and managing the endeavor as chairperson since 1996.

When asked when she plans to retire from the job, she replied, “I’ll let God decide that.”

Delrose measures each quilt, has another quilter press it, decides which quilt will be quilted each Monday, takes pictures, and records in a little notebook who pieced or donated it. She also notes who helped with the final quilting. After the auction, she lets donors know how much the quilts sold for, and sends out thank-you cards to all involved.

Delrose goes out of her way to present high-quality and professionally-crafted quilts for the auction. Most years, the group includes a “featured” quilt. Delrose’s favorite was in 2003 when the group made a Minnesota Twins quilt.

Minnesota Twins quilt, one of Delrose’s favorites. Photo courtesy of Delrose Fischer

She said she and her granddaughter Erin drove to a Twins autograph party where she obtained eight autographs, and later met with the Twins’ doctor, Daniel Buss. Dr. Buss then obtained eight more autographs for her. She sewed blocks with pictures of the players and their autographs into a quilt. It was purchased for $4,700.

Sometime later, Dr. Buss asked Delrose for a picture of the quilt. He framed it and hung it in his office.

Other quilts featured have been barns, Munsinger and Clements Garden flowers, Crown Royal velvet bags, state flowers, antique cars, Harley Davidsons, football, baseball, tractors—John Deere, Farmall, and International Harvester—POW, MIA, and many more, including a signed Kirby Puckett quilt in 1997, which sold for $2,200.

Delrose stores her quilt paraphernalia in the basement of her home—finished quilt tops, batting, thread, fabric, and other items, although finished quilts are kept in a second floor room of the parish house.

In addition to all that, Delrose coordinates volunteer workers in food service at St. John’s

University. These workers’ earnings go toward the quilters, lunches, supplies, and other expenses. She said she doesn’t know what the quilters would do without the income generated by these valuable workers.

At lunch time, volunteers from the community prepare and serve fully cooked meals to the Monday quilters. Delrose keeps a notebook and calendar in which she records all the helpers’ names.

When income from the volunteers at St. John’s exceeds the amount the quilters need, as many quilt tops and much of the fabric is donated, the excess income is used to pay for much needed items for the church. Traditionally, she said, “the parish priest makes a list of items needed. Items donated over the years were window treatments for the parish house, priests’ albs, a pewter chalice, choir bells, numerous lights, and much more.”

Civic Volunteer

Volunteering comes naturally to Delrose. She chaired Grandma’s Attic at the 4th of July festival for many years, helps at the annual parish Christmas, garage and craft sales, the parish winter walk, and she donates hand-made or machine-made dish towels, table runners, and other craft items to the church kitchen and dining room.

She drives the golf cart at St. Ben’s Monastery, transporting sisters to their various duties in other parts of the monastery grounds.

She waters plants at St. Ben’s Gathering Place, and helps with mailings. She is an active member of the Y2-K Lions, American Legion Auxiliary, and has helped at St. Joseph’s Habitat House.

Delrose Fischer holds a quilt recently auctioned off, one of her favorites, a quilt featuring central Minnesota barns. Photo courtesy of Delrose Fischer


Delrose was born in Collegeville in 1936, the last of 11 children born to Pius and Barbara (Stitch) Gillitzer. She said that while growing up she lived in a number of places, but has fond memories of living near the granite quarries in Waite Park where she learned to swim and ice-skate. She graduated from Cathedral High School in 1954. She said she didn’t really like school except for Home Economics, where she learned to sew. Delrose married Clarence Fischer in 1956, and they divorced in 1993. She has four children, Doug, Debra, Terry, Scott—and a deceased infant.

In 1994, after moving from place to place, she built a home for herself in Pleasant Acres (St. Joseph), where she still resides among her numerous flower gardens, lawn ornaments, bird feeders, and many trees. In her limited free time, she reads, or machine-embroiders dish towels and other items that she gives away or sells at craft fairs.

After her children were in school, Delrose became a working mom. She cleaned offices for a short period of time, then started working at Fingerhut in St. Cloud. After just four years, she moved up to the position of supervisor. After 21 years, in 1989, she began her volunteering second career.

Delrose said volunteering and community service are important to her but her family, especially her grandchildren, are what keeps her, going. The church and community appreciate and admire her many contributions.

Early Quilt history

Polly Schulte and Dolores Meyer started the group in 1987. Quilters come and go but there are always enough to complete the job for the parish. Several daughters have succeeded their mothers.

Auctions in the beginning were held outdoors but moved into the church in about 1994 to avoid inclement weather. Income from the quilts goes toward parish needs and necessities.

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