Avenir Museum celebrates the vibrant life of centenarian quilter

Vera Bodle began quilting at 80 years old as a way to distract her hands when she quit smoking. She set out to make only a couple of quilts, but greatly surpassed her own intentions. In the 24 years that she pursued her quilting passion, Bodle entirely hand-stitched more than 200 quilts.

Now some of those works are on display at the Avenir Gallery in the University Center for the Arts.

Bodle was drawn to beautiful fabrics, bright colors and unique patterns. Her collection of work is a mixture of custom-designed and holiday-themed quilts that draw influence from around the world, most notably Japanese art.

Vera Bodle (photo by Don Reilly, DJR Imaging)

Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising staff met Bodle when she was at a very witty and sharp 104 years old.

“I didn’t want to live to be 100,” Bodle said in an interview with Denver7 News. “It crept up on me!”

She was a shining model of healthy, productive, positive aging. She enjoyed exercising and reading and attributed her long life to maintaining an active lifestyle and positive mentality.


Bodle was born on a cattle ranch in Montana in 1911, the youngest of six children. She and her family moved to Hollywood, California, where they lived through World War I. In 1924, Bodle’s family moved to Santa Monica, California, where Bodle spent her summers soaking up the sun and surf on the California coast as a self-described beach bum.

After graduating from Santa Monica High School in 1929, Bodle enrolled in the University of Redlands and graduated in 1933. She met her first husband the same year, and they had one daughter, Thelma. They were married until 1939.

Bodle met her second husband when she moved to Imperial Valley, California, to teach. The two tried their hand at the hospitality business, managing hotels across Florida, Arizona and Washington State. The demands of the hospitality business weighed heavily on the two and their marriage ended in 1961.

Bodle spent much of her time traveling and playing golf with her late husband, Mel Bodle. They married in 1969 and stayed together until Mel passed away in 1996. In 2001, Bodle ventured out to Tucson, Arizona, to be closer to her daughter. The two then moved to Loveland, where Bodle passed away peacefully this spring, just shy of her 105th birthday.

Celebrating a centenarian

The Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising is hosting her work in a new textile exhibition that Bodle herself called Vera’s Happy Hodgepodge in the Avenir Gallery in the UCA until mid-December. The exhibit will showcase some of Bodle’s finest work and celebrate her passion for quilting.

As part of the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising’s Thursday Evening Lecture Series this fall, Professor of Occupational Therapy Karen Atler will present an engaging discussion on Nov. 17 surrounding academic research that investigates quilting, handwork and health. For more information on the Thursday Evening Lecture Series, visit http://www.avenir.colostate.edu/.

The Department of Design and Merchandising is part of the College of Health and Human Sciences.