Northern Lakes Senior Living vets receive Quilts of Honor

Gail Belmont, executive director of Quilts of Honor, presents one of the 15 Quilts of Honor to Marine veteran R.D.Briley at Northern Lakes Senior Living Tuesday, July 9. The quilters, who have created and distributed over 3,900 quilts to deserving veterans and their families, personalize it with the veteran’s name, and include a pillowcase and a letter. Today’s event featured music from the Oak Street Chapel Band, the presentation of colors from the VFW Post 1647 and singing from the Northern Lakes Chorale. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Patriotism was strong Tuesday afternoon at Northern Lakes Senior Living in Baxter, as 15 resident military veterans received special recognition.

“Oohs” and “aahs” rang out as each veteran received a unique, handmade red, white and blue quilt.

Gail Belmont, Army veteran and executive director of Quilts of Honor, traveled the long distance from Valley Springs, California to hand out the quilts, which are a sign of gratitude for the veterans’ service.

“They’re the first group that I’ve come cross country for,” Belmont said after the program Tuesday, July 9. “We’re all volunteers, and we have no paid staff, and so we go off whatever money we have. We had a generous donation, so I said, ‘We’re coming to Minnesota.’”


The California-based nonprofit Quilts of Honor was formed in 2010, according to the organization’s website, as a way of providing healing, loving quilts to those who have served in harm’s way to protect their country’s freedoms.

Tuesday’s event carried out that mission, as veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam proudly received their Quilts of Honor, while the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1647 presented colors and the Oak Street Chapel Band and the Northern Lakes Chorale provided patriotic music.

“This was nice because not always do the older gentlemen get acknowledged. And we’re trying to find our World War II and Korean veterans so that we can thank them before they do leave this Earth,” Belmont said. “And to have all this singing and being patriotic, you can’t ask for better than that.”

And the veterans clearly felt the appreciation.

“Very cool, ladies. Very cool,” Korean War Army veteran Myron Landecker said as he received his quilt.

“I’m pretty honored,” Robert Morris, a World War II Coast Guard vet, said after the event.

“I’m very proud of it,” former Marine R.D. Briley said of his quilt.

All the veterans honored are residents of Northern Lakes Senior Living, and the event came from an idea Sandy Hudak, the home’s activities director, had last year.


“My vision was to honor the veterans at Northern Lakes Senior Living because, simply, it’s important,” Hudak said to the audience, before turning to the veterans: “You’re important, and your contribution is monumentally important. So we wanted to express our gratitude for all of you.”

Hudak organized the event with the help of Marcia Stevens and Sue Carroll, coordinators of Quilted Hugs of Gratitude, the Brainerd chapter of Quilts of Honor. Each quilt the group makes is unique and personalized, including the veteran’s name, the names of those who worked on it and a letter of gratitude.

“These quilts are a labor of love,” Belmont said.

Veterans who received quilts are:

  • Dewey Bjork -- Air Force, World War II.

  • R.D. Briley -- Marines, 1943-71.

  • Robert Exsted -- Army, Vietnam War.

  • Edward Fleming -- Army, Korean War.

  • Irvin Fraki -- Army, World War II.

  • Jim Hartman -- National Guard, 1953-95.

  • Myron Landecker -- Army, Korean War.

  • Wayne Larson -- Air Force, World War II.

  • Robert Lewis -- Air Force, Korean War.

  • Daniel Long -- Air Force, 1952-72.

  • Robert Morris -- Coast Guard, World War II.

  • Donald Quinn -- Army, Korean War.

  • Charles Rueskin -- Navy, Korean War.

  • Robert Tiegen -- Army, World War II.

  • Donald Walmsley -- Army, Korean War.

For more photos, go to

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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