MILLBURY, Mass. — Few teachers in a small town reach the status of legend, but there is one teacher who stands out in the history of Millbury -- sewing teacher Rose Neri.
Neri graduated from Boston University in 1945 with a bachelor's degree in applied science. She started teaching sewing classes/home economics in Millbury in September 1948, and continued teaching in Millbury until her retirement in June 1987.
In addition to teaching, Neri is a member of the Historical Society of Early American Decorators, the American Needlepoint Guild and the embroidery guild. Neri also painted and crocheted. She still shares the family home in Millbury with her sister, Lena Neri.
Recently four of her former students, Mary Kerr Griffith (Class of 1967), Pauline Tranter (Class of 1973), Karen Dinsdale Magnant (Class of 1977), and Lisa Chase Dalrymple (Class of 1982) honored Neri by presenting her with a quilt they made especially for her in a rose-patterned fabric. These four women are part of a local sewing group. The whole project came about during a class when the discussion often would contain a comment about Neri. It was suggested the four members of the class who had Neri make her a quilt.
Within a week, the project was planned and started. They were able to locate her and set up a time to present the quilt to her with the help of her sister. They felt the quilt was a long overdue thank you for teaching the basics of sewing, a way to honor the woman who taught the skills that were now bringing the women together in what they call the "Sisterhood of Sewing."
The quilt was presented Nov. 11 to Neri. It was a thrill for her four former students to see her since most of them had not seen her since they left her classroom decades ago. Neri's sense of humor was clearly evident in her conversation with her former students, as was the close bond she shares with her sister. In addition to hearing about her life, Neri and her sister shared with the group the one and only quilt they made. The quilt was a handmade project that contained no machine stitching, which was profoundly different than the modern day quilt with which she was presented.