Louise Witherspoon Williams was born and raised in Alberta, AL. She graduated from Pine Hill High School in 1977 and moved to Mobile, AL to further her education. She graduated from 20th Century Business College in 1979.
Her mother, Estelle Witherspoon, was the voice and heartbeat of the Freedom Quilting Bee, which Ms. Witherspoon co-founded in 1966. Louise learned the value of family and community from her parents (Estelle and Eugene), grandmother, aunts, uncles, and elder cousins at an early age. They made sure Louise knew the importance of voting, the value of standing up for what is right, the importance of doing the right thing.
Louise has traveled domestically and internationally with her husband of 42 years, Eugene, who is a U.S. veteran and her twin daughters, Tamika and Jamika, but she will always calls Alberta home. She was delighted when asked to become a board member and then later to be asked to serve as President of the newly formed Freedom Quilting Bee Legacy, where she will follow in her mother’s footsteps to continue to enrich the lives of the people in Alberta and surrounding communities and to share the wonderful gifts the people of these communities bring to the world.
Taylor was born in Alberta in 1944, one of 13 children born to Mariah and Kenny Irby, Sr. Like many of his generation, he left rural Alabama to move north for greater opportunities. On his 20th birthday he moved to Detroit and made a life for himself there, landing a job at Chrysler within two weeks, eventually marrying and having four children. He retired from Chrysler in 1994, “loaded up my truck and headed back home.” It was always his dream to return to Alabama. On his visits back, he would go to “The Bee” to sit with this mother and watch the women “sewing them big quilts. They would have three quilts up at a time. They’d sit around quilting and telling stories that I loved to hear.” His dad passed in 1977 and he committed to buying his mother, Ms. Marie, some land and building a house. Ms. Marie, moved into that house on nine acres of land and lived there until her death
in 2010 at the age of 101. Mr. Taylor still lives in that home.
Taylor wanted to join the FQB Legacy Board because he shares the vision that FQB will be re-vitalized to become a positive community influence and provide a place for today’s and future generations to learn about the women who made a way when there was no way. “There’s so much history here” he says, and it’s important to appreciate what the women of The Bee were able to accomplish for themselves, their families and the community.
I was born and raised in Alberta, Alabama. I attended Alberta Elementary School, Pine Hill Jr High School, Pine Hill High School and Concordia College where I double majored in computer science and mathematics. I worked for the Wilcox County Commission as Payroll Personnel Director for 22 years.
My mother, Florine Smith, was employed at the Freedom Quilting Bee as a seamstress, cutter and quilter. Some of my favorite memories were walking up the road to the Bee with the other neighborhood kids to eat lunch with all the women quilters. They made lunch in the kitchen. We would sit on the porch and eat. It was a place for family and we felt so much love there. I am happy to be a board member of The Legacy and working to make it, once again, a source of community activity and pride.
Patty Irby is the Recording Secretary for Freedom Quilting Bee Legacy, and has been involved in the organization for many years, in many roles. She’s always been a go-getter, working for the Bee during the summers while going to school. After graduation, she moved to South Carolina, then on to New York, and back to Alabama to help her ailing mother. She worked as a community builder with Americorps Vista, and then got involved with FQB again, filling many positions until she was named Assistant Manager. She says she is proud that “Freedom Quilting Bee has been an inspiration for not only Wilcox County and surrounding counties, but all over the world.”
Born in February 1954, the seventh of ten children, Patty is married with four children, eight grandchildren and one great grandson.
“I’m a Gee’s Bend Quilter!” My mother, her mother, and my aunts sewed the foundation; all I have to do now is thread my own needle. Like most girls in Gee’s Bend, I learned to quilt from the women around me. Creating quilts was so essential to the women of my family that, “It was implanted in my genes.” I married at 18 and toured the world with my husband, Lovette, who was in the armed forces. Ms. Loretta divides her time between Gee’s Bend and Huntsville. “My mother was a member of the Bee and I am happy to be a board member to bring back to the community this vital and historic organization and resource”.
I was born to Rev. Lonnie L Brown Sr and Nancy Brown in 1952, in Alberta, Alabama. I attended Alberta Jr High School, Wilcox County High School and did my undergraduate work at Selma University. My mother was a member of the Freedom Quilting Bee. My father was the Master of Ceremonies for the Freedom Quilting Bee groundbreaking ceremony on August 8, 1969. Family members participated in many of its activities. My involvement came from my interactions with manager Mrs. Estella Witherspoon, who worked throughout the community, state and anywhere she could to get a listening ear for the efforts of the co-op.
After hearing at church recently, the efforts being made to revitalize the Bee, I was happy to be invited by President Louise Williams to become a board member.
I was born and raised in Boykin (aka Gee’s Bend) Alabama. The great granddaughter of William Carey and the granddaughter of Rachael Carey George. I am a product of the Wilcox County school system and a graduate of Alabama A&M University. I have worked for over 30 years as a Criminal Defense Investigator in the Metro Atlanta area. I am currently working my dream job as an Investigator with the Metro Capital Defenders Office in the defense of clients where the death penalty is being sought as the ultimate form of punishment.
I am the daughter of Annie Carey, mother of one son, William Carey and the grandmother of 2, Javin and Sanaia Carey.