July 27, 2011
It is no ordinary quilt. It is a king-size quilt of memories made up of photos, patches and pieces of fabric – a 50-year journey of exploration and challenges that Patric Leedom faced throughout his life.
Just point to a photo or patch and Leedom will have a story about that time in his life, where he was, what he was doing at the time and the people involved, sometimes with laughter, sometimes with tears.
Leedom, associate professor in English at Shawnee State University's Teacher Education Department, made such a huge impression on a student that the student made a king size quilt of memories for him.
He's just a wonderful person," said April McCleese. "He wasn't easy in class but I appreciated that."
He admits to being demanding, "rattling their cages" and presenting very rigorous work for the students.
As a non-traditional student returning to school after 14 years, McCleese wanted to really learn, and Leedom gave her the challenges she needed to motivate her.
Making quilts has been her hobby for 13 years, and McCleese decided to create a quilt for Leedom.
"He told us so many stories of his travels and his life adventures," McCleese said. "I kept thinking of that and thought that I would make a small throw for him."
She asked him for some photos and he brought albums for her to look through and as she started putting photos together, she ended up with an enormous king-size quilt. It took her nearly nine months to finish the project.
The quilt is divided into several sections with 57 photographs and 27 submarine force Navy-related patches highlighting some parts of his journey.
Family, friends, personal adventures, his Navy career, and different educational institutions where Leedom taught are all depicted on the quilt.
Photos of travels to the Far East in World War II diesel electric submarines, rafting down the Colorado River, Submarine Conventions, and of course, Shawnee State University are all arranged in rows across the quilt.
Many of the photos are from his days in the Navy on a submarine. One is a 17th Century chart of the "New World." Several rows depict his involvement with the United States Submarine Veterans Incorporated (USSVI) Annual Convention.
"Once I joined the submarine reserves in 1962, I was sent across the ocean to the Far East," Leedom said. "For as long as I remember, I have had a deep burning, urging desire to be curious, to look far, to travel by whatever means was available to me to explore and to learn."
He worked on 21 submarines and he was permanent crew on three of them.
Some of the patches represent a specific event such as crossing the equator (Shellback), crossing the equator at the 180th meridian (Realm of the Golden Dragon), crossing the Arctic Circle (Blue Nose), and operating in the Arctic Ocean during the Cold War (Northern Run).
He took the quilt to the New London (Conn.) Submarine Base and met with the admiral and he was a guest for lunch on the USS Annapolis. He took the quilt with him and the Submarine Museum near the base is interested in displaying the quilt for special occasions.
Leedom continues long-term friendships with many of his former students and his admiration and respect for McCleese shows as he talks about the work she has done on the quilt.
"I'm blown away and very honored and very touched," Leedom said. "When they put me in a nursing home and I have very few possessions, I will have my quilt."
The quilt is on display at SSU's Clark Memorial Library main level. Summer hours for the library are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m.