Beaverton's Barbara Hess inspired by infants she lost

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Wayne and Barbara Hess drop off nearly two dozen handmade quilts to Doernbecher Children's Hospital Wednesday morning. Barbara spent three years making the quilts for the kids. With the holiday season and winter weather making their presences felt, the donation of 23 handmade quilts is likely to be fully appreciated by patients at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital’s Child Life center.

Central Beaverton resident Barbara Hess spent the past three years or so on the quilts, which she and her husband, Wayne, dropped off Wednesday morning at the Southwest Portland facility, which is part of Oregon Health & Science University Hospital.

The project was a labor of love for Barbara, 73, who designed and knit the quilts in honor of three infants she never got to see grow up.

“I lost three babies to death when I was very young, two were due to doctor’s incompetence, in the ’50s and ’60s,” she wrote in a statement accompanying her donation. “My heart goes out to families with sick children. My sister was treated several times at Doernbecher in the early 1940s, and though she didn’t survive past age 3, I know several children who were helped here and are now leading happy, healthy lives today.”

This is the second time Hess has donated quilts to the hospital, but the first where she, at her husband’s insistence, informed the staff who she was and why she was TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - In all, Wayne and Barbara Hess have donated 27 quilts this year to Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

“I want to do what I can for the children who are here receiving excellent care,” she said of Child Life. “Since our finances are not enough to give in a monetary way, I use my love of quilting to make gifts that may bring a bit of comfort to the children. I don’t know why it comes out to 23. I think two dozen would be a nice figure, but it never comes out that way.”

Unlike with the first donation, Wayne felt it more important to let the staff know who made them and why.

“I thought she should be recognized for it,” he said. “There’s hundreds of hours in those quilts. It’s quite a process.”

An active community volunteer himself, Wayne Hess said the quilts speak volumes about his wife of 20 years.

“She is the most giving person I’ve ever met.”

Based on the reception her quilts received, Barbara’s instincts and time proved right on the money.

“As soon as we got there, a darling little boy about 2 years old pushed his way between us and grabbed some quilts,” she said with a laugh. “By the time we were leaving, they said he had already taken them up to his room.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Barbara Hess enjoys going to different fabric stores and thrift shops, looking for interesting fabric designs that she can turn into a quilt for the kids of Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

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