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Giving Back in a Creative, Meaningful Way: Posse member makes large quilt to honor law enforcement

BY Carol Stender

Linda Albrecht-Norby, a member of the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Posse, stands in front of a 9x10 foot quilt that she made for the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office. The quilt has patches from all 87 counties in Minnesota. Contributed photo

It took almost two years to finish, but the end result, an impressive 9x10-foot quilt that hangs at the Otter Tail County (OTC) Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Center in Ottertail, Minn.. 

The quilt’s background is a light tan fabric with a brown appliqué in the shape of the State of Minnesota looming large on the piece. Each one of Minnesota’s 87 counties is stitched on the state appliqué. At the center of each county is a patch from county bearing the logo of its sheriff’s department with the North Star, bearing the Minnesota seal, to the right of the quilt.

It’s a labor of love for the quilt’s creator, Linda Albrecht-Norby, an Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office Posse member. 

She got the idea for the quilt design while talking to OTC Sheriff’s Department Lt. Jim Stewart. Linda, who has made several quilts, asked about a small quilt hanging behind his desk. The quilt, he said, was made by his wife and has several badges he’s collected over his years of service. 

“That gives me an idea…,” she told him. 

When she described her quilt idea, Jim quickly supported her plan. 

Each county sheriff’s department was asked to contribute a patch to the project. The response was positive from the different departments even though it took a year to to get all the patches. 

Linda didn’t sit idly by waiting for them. She began the process of putting the design together. First she got a map of Minnesota and, using a projector, put the image on the wall. She measured the size and figured it would be the same as a king-size bed sheet.  

She traced each county and began cutting and stitching the fabric. When she received the patches, each was sewn in its spot on the quilt. The finished quilt was displayed at a state Sheriff’s Department event in Brainerd before making its home at the Law Enforcement Center in Ottertail, Minn. 

A closer look at the quilt made by Linda, nearly two years in the making. Photo courtesy of The OtterTail County Sheriff's Department.

Her sewing skills come naturally for her. Linda loves crafting and creating things. It’s not a talent she learned from her mother, she said. Linda’s mom mended clothes, but didn’t sew them. 

Linda recalled her mom’s 1940s-era Singer sewing machine and another one her grandmother used. That model was black and powered by a peddle. 

Her first sewing project was a gingham apron with a pocket she made through a high school Home Economics class. She smiles as she describes the piece with its snags and uneven hem. 

She got a book on sewing and taught herself more techniques including how to make buttonholes. Linda loves crafting and has enjoyed using the sewing skills on many projects.

The Minnesota Sheriff’s Office quilt isn’t her first foray into quilting. Linda, a member of the Lions Clubs International made her first wall hanging using t-shirts from Kamp KACE, a summer camp for kids who have cancer with activities sponsored by the Lions. 

Another quilt has individual blocks acknowledging Lions projects from vision to seeing eye dogs and diabetes projects plus many more. 

Those quilts mean a lot to Linda. She served as the 5M9 District Governor for the Lions Club International from 2010 to 2011. Linda is serving in that same capacity once more.

During her first time as 5M9 district governor, she needed someone to head a project. Gary Senske stepped forward to help. Through the year as the two worked together, Gary talked about his volunteer work with the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office Posse and encouraged Linda to join. She did and has been part of this support arm to the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s office for more than 13 years. 

The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Posse started in 1968 and is the cornerstone in the county augmenting the Sheriff’s Department and local law enforcement. The all volunteer Posse helps locate missing persons, assists during natural disasters and secures crime scenes in lieu of a deputy. The group provides security and traffic control at events and offers security, traffic direction and crowd control at county events and parades.

This photo better shows the size of the quilt compared to Linda. The quilt is hung prominently in the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office in Ottertail, Minn. Contributed photo

Linda gives of herself in everything she does. She is originally from the Twin Cities area and moved to Connecticut where she married and started a family. When she divorced, Linda moved to Vergas, Minn., and raised her three children on a hobby farm. The family was involved with FFA and 4-H. 

The former stay-at-home mom got a job at the Perham Living Center and became a nursing assistant in 1983. She later became a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).  In  2011, she married her husband, Jay.

Linda worked with Lakeland Hospice from 2008 to 2012 and returned to Perham Living Center to finish her career. She retired in 2019. 

Calling Linda retired, though, might be a stretch. She remains active in the community. Linda has worked part-time as a funeral assistant at Schoenberger Funeral Home. Besides her work with Lions International and the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Posse, Linda also enjoys time spent with children, 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. 

She believes in helping and serving others, and says volunteering is very important to her. 

It’s important to stay active and work within the community to help wherever needed, she said. 

She’s working on her next projects - a sweatshirt for one grandchild and a quilt for another. And it’s all done with care and loving stitches.

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