Winter Holiday 01

Enola Marie (McClaren) Gish

November 7, 1926 ~ December 15, 2021 (age 95)

Obituary

Enola Marie (McClaren) Gish, 95, of Baldwin City, KS passed away surrounded by family on Dec. 15, 2021, at Wellsville Retirement Community, Wellsville, KS.

She was born Nov. 7, 1926 in Centerview, KS, the daughter of Charles Oren McClaren and Bernice Helen (Harp) McClaren. Growing up on a wheat farm near Centerview, Enola graduated as salutatorian from Centerview High School in 1944; she would often ruefully add that there were only three other students in her class. Enola continued her education at Southwestern College in Winfield, KS, with a major in Home Economics. On August 14, 1948, Enola was united in marriage to Lowell Gish at Lewis, KS. They shared over 52 years of loving marriage.  In 1948, Enola launched her first career as a high school teacher in Atlanta, KS, and she taught home economics for over 20 years.  She earned her master’s degree in Art at Emporia State University.

Enola was a creative person who pursued art throughout her life. Her explorations, which took many forms, such as weaving, ceramics, and jewelry-making, gave her a means to express herself. Learning new subjects and exploring her creativity were exciting for Enola; she would often lose track of time and work late into the night on various projects. This creative energy led to her finding a unique passion for quilting. In the 1970s, Enola emerged as a quilter, quilting teacher, designer, journalist and historian. 

An important aspect of her quilting passion was showing the world that quilting was more than a hobby, but rather an art form that warranted attention and respect. In 1973, Enola founded the Maple Leaf Quilt Show in Baldwin City and directed it for 25 years. It is now the oldest quilt show in Kansas. Her long-running quilt column, “The Quilt Lady,” appeared in the Baldwin Ledger and led to the title becoming her moniker in quilting circles. In 1977, she was one of 21 women who founded the Kaw Valley Quilters Guild, one of the earliest in the nation. Enola traveled nearly 9,000 miles to find quilts and quiltmakers for both the 1978 Kansas Quilt Symposium and a 1997 traveling exhibit, which was first displayed in the state Capitol Rotunda. As a result, Enola was described as knowing “more quilters and quilts than any other person in Kansas.” In 1984 she helped found the Kansas Quilters Organization and served as its first president, later becoming a Master Quilter in the Kansas Folk Art Apprenticeship program. Enola also taught numerous quilting classes and workshops throughout Kansas.

Once, when living in England with Lowell during a faculty exchange program, she organized a show of her own quilts at a castle in Scotland. This was especially meaningful to Enola because she was proud of her Scottish heritage, often attributing her stubbornness to being a McClaren.

Another passion of Enola’s was sports. Lowell was fond of recounting a time when he rushed back to the living room to find out what he had missed at the start of a Kansas University basketball game, only to discover that Enola’s boisterous cheers had been for the announcement of the starting lineup. This excitement could also be witnessed during her attendance of her children’s and grandchildren’s sporting events, where it was easy to locate her as one of the most enthusiastic supporters.

Enola loved attending her children’s – and her grandchildren’s – school and sporting events, plays, and concerts. She will be remembered as a loving, nurturing mother and grandmother. She had a natural way of connecting with children, drawing them out with her warmth and enthusiasm. She was an innovative teacher who was loved by her students; she inspired their confidence in themselves and helped them discover their own potential. She was an explorer of the arts, who loved creating her own quilt designs.  She was passionate in her pursuit of honoring Kansas quilts and quilt history. Enola approached life with great zest and abundant joy.

She is survived by her four children, David Gish (Phyllis), Topeka, KS, Juanita Gish Reiter, Hillsboro, OR, Stephen Gish (Paula), Tonganoxie, KS, and Diana Gish, Baldwin City, KS; 10 grandchildren, Marty Gish (Anna), Dustin Gish, Derek Gish (Tamara), Garrett Reiter, Shannon Reiter, Cooper Gish, Carter Gish, Samuel Tuckfield (Alex), Owen Tuckfield, and Max Tuckfield; and five great grandchildren, Max Gish, Marta Gish, Camille Tuckfield, Kyrie Tuckfield, and Kinsey Tuckfield.

Enola was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Lowell Gish; her parents, Charles and Bernice McClaren; and a brother, Charles George McClaren.

A private inurnment will be held on Jan. 21, 2022 at Oakwood Cemetery, Baldwin City, KS. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to Maple Leaf Quilt Show Committee, Baldwin First United Methodist Church, or Douglas County Meals on Wheels and sent c/o Lamb-Roberts-Price Funeral Home, P.O. Box 64, Baldwin City, KS 66006. Condolences may be sent to the family through www.lamb-roberts.com.

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Services

Private Committal

Baldwin City, Oakwood Cemetery, KS

Donations

Maple Leaf Quilt Show Committee

Douglas County Meals on Wheels

First United Methodist Church - Baldwin City
Baldwin City KS 66006

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