• Sammie Simpson holds the quarter-size version of the “A Quilt of Leaves,” which she created for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
    Sammie Simpson holds the quarter-size version of the “A Quilt of Leaves,” which she created for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

SCOUTING AROUND: Olympic history includes local quilter

   Sammie Simpson had her quilts in shows for a long time and won prizes for them, but in 1996, two of her quilts made it to the Olympic Games in Atlanta. One of those quilts was “A Quilt of Leaves,” which was the “Look of the Games,” the identifying theme of the event. All sign posts identifying venues included the quilt’s design.
   “It was my 15 minutes of fame,” Simpson said.
   Simpson was living in Alpharetta, Ga., at the time. She was friends with two ladies – Anita Weinraub and Holly Anderson ­­– who were spearheading the effort to gift quilts to commemorate the first Olympic Games in the South. In addition to one of the 400 quilts they needed to give to the countries participating in the games, they asked Simpson to quilt the theme project designed by a six-member team and pieced together by Barbara Abrelat.
   In the book The Olympic Games Quilts: America’s Welcome to the World, the quilt was described as symbolizing the Southern tradition of quilt-making, the trees of Atlanta, the laurel leaves for athletes and olive branches for peace. It is a bright, modern quilt, with colors of gold, purple, green, blue and red throughout with appliqué leaves.
   Because there was an early deadline to finish “A Quilt of Leaves” – it was unveiled two years before the start of the games – Simpson said she worked on it faster than she would have liked. She hand-quilted it, which normally takes 60-100 hours to make just one.
   Instead of going to a visiting country, that quilt remained with the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games.
   While working on the theme quilt, she also worked on the quilt that was to be gifted to a country. The quilt she designed and quilted, “Fine Feathered Friend,” featured the feathering technique she’s known for and had a more traditional design of different-colored triangles arranged in a diamond pattern on a white background. It was gifted to the Egypt National Olympic Committee.
   The quilts were on display at the Atlanta History Center before being given to the visiting countries’ committees and flag bearers.
   “It was a wonderful show,” Simpson said. “It was nice for all of us. We enjoyed it.”
   Simpson did not attend any Olympic sporting events, but her house did end up as a tourism site for at least two Asian women visiting for the Games. She didn’t know how they found her, but they wanted to see her quilts.
   “I’m always willing to show my quilts,” she said.
   She also made a quilt for the Paralympics Games that year, and was later asked to create a hand-quilt for the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998.
   “I thought it was nice,” Simpson said. “I would go along with anything about making quilts.”
   Today, Simpson’s home in Cherokee County displays many of the quilts she’s made layered on beds and railings, and stores several more chests. She started quilting in 1983 after taking a sewing lesson.
   “I was the high achiever of the class, and I never stopped,” she said.
   However, her two loves are repairing and restoring quilts, and repairing sewing machines.

UGA honors King’s Pharmacy
   King’s Pharmacy was honored last month as one of the fastest-growing businesses owned by University of Georgia Alumni. Out of the businesses honored in the ninth annual Bulldog 100, King’s Pharmacy was ranked at No. 48.
   The pharmacy is owned by John and Dorris Hyer, who graduated in 2012 and took over ownership of King’s Pharmacy in July 2013. While there were three other pharmacy alumni who made the list, the Hyers were the only ones who own a pharmacy.
   “It’s a great honor,” John Hyer said. “I always thought it would be neat to be on it, but never expected to be on it.”
   He believes their staff and customer service contributed to the steady growth they’ve had over the years. The University of Georgia received more than 500 nominations for the 2018 list, and Warren Averett CPAs & Advisors in Atlanta verified information and ranked the businesses.
   Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.