STITCH BY STITCH, BEST FRIEND CARRIES ON TRADITION

One of Donna Crandall’s favorite things to do was quilt with her best friend, Paula Miller. It all started in 1985 when they took a class on Irish chain quilting and spent hours making their first quilts for their children, Kerianne and Matt, who were born one week apart. At that time, Paula was pregnant with her daughter Stephanie. The three children grew up considering themselves to be siblings.

“The rest,” Paula said, “is history.”

Paula Miller and third-graders from Birchwood Elementary School present their quilt to David Crandall.

The “BFFs” met in 1978 at Siena College in Loudonville while dating roommates. “We started out as friends but became family,” said Paula. “There wasn’t a day that we didn’t talk on the phone, some days more than once. Our families vacationed together multiple times a year, to Disney World and the beach in Ogunquit, Maine.”

“We took quilting classes whenever time permitted,” Paula recalled. “During the last few months of Donna’s life, we would spend a few afternoons a week together finishing up a quilt that she had started for Kerianne. It was so nice sitting there quilting and chatting.”

Once the Foundation was established, Paula quickly became the go-to girl to assemble quilts from squares volunteers made. Over the years she has made dozens of quilts for patients. Paula said, “I love making the quilts for others. I try and find colorful fabrics to brighten up the kids’ hospital stays.”

A third-grade teaching assistant at Birchwood Elementary School in Niskayuna, Paula recently organized the creation of three quilts representing the three third–grade classes – 62 students in all. Each class picked a theme – school, nature and seasons – that are reflected in colorful squares Paula assembled into quilts for CF patients at Albany Medical Center.

“Donna was not just my friend, she was more of a sister to me,” Paula said. “I feel blessed to have known her and miss her every day.” Donna would no doubt love how Paula carries on their tradition and, in so doing, brings comfort and warmth to other CF patients.