In the summer of 1998 Mary Jane Ehlich and Madalene Murphy put their heads together and began talking about the possibility of a quilt guild in Tioga County. Mary Jane, an award-winning quilter, had been quilting just about all her life and had recently retired and returned to her family home in Covington. Quilt guilds had been an important part of her quilting, and she had been active in a number of large guilds, primarily in North Carolina.
A few years before, Madalene, who lived in Wellsboro, had decided to get serious about her quilting after falling in love with it in the late seventies. She had joined the Corning Quilt Guild in 1996 and realized how much stimulation, encouragement, and shared knowledge a guild provides.
Both Mary Jane and Madalene were hoping for a guild closer to home.
They chose the date September 28, 1998, for an organizational meeting at the Gmeiner Art & Cultural Center in Wellsboro, and Madalene wrote an article about the meeting for the Wellsboro Gazette. They decided that, if at least ten people showed up, they would move forward with their plans. Much to their surprise, twenty-six other women attended the meeting that night, who were not only interested in quilting but willing to volunteer to help out. And so the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild, a name suggested by Mary Jane, was born.
During the first year the nature of the guild took shape. Monthly meetings took on a three-part structure: a business meeting, a show & tell of finished projects or works in progress, and a program presented by a professional from outside the guild or a guild member.
Each of the volunteers who took on jobs at that first meeting contributed much to the success and increasing popularity of the guild:
- Mary Jane as president ran the business meetings, kept the group organized, and generally provided leadership from the depth of her knowledge about quilting.
- Madalene as vice-president scheduled a variety of programs for the monthly meetings and also contributed to the organizational structure. She designed the guild's logo, which depicts the mountain laurel, the state flower of Pennsylvania.
- Dori Staron as secretary took on the difficult task of accurately recording the minutes of each meeting
- Karen Chambers as treasurer set up the financial structure of the guild and did all the paperwork that made the guild officially a nonprofit entity.
- Loretta Benedict as publicity chair wrote articles about the monthly meetings for the newspaper.
- Anya Tyson as newsletter editor spent hours insuring that all members, even if they could not attend every meeting, felt connected and informed about what the guild was doing—a job vital to the success of the group.
List of Presidents:
- Mary Jane Ehlich 1998-1999
- Madalene Murphy 1999-2001
- Carol Pastelock 2001-2003
- Janet Bellinger 2003-2005
- Glenda (Tess) Reese 2005-2007
- Nancy Sidell 2007-2009
- Peggi Yacovissi 2009-2011
- Brenda Eccher 2011-2013
- Sylvia Smith 2013-2014
- Angie Sykes 2014-2014
- Kate Means 2014-2016
- Betty Maxwell 2017-2018
- Sylvia Loveland 2019- 2021
- Nicole (Nikki) Wilson 2022