SUBMITTED PHOTO The Gazette    Sue Fulrath Barn Quiltblock

Fifth-generation, Winnebago-area farm family celebrates direct descendant and resident Sue Leonard fulrath’s 80th birthday (2020) with a specially-commissioned quilt block art unveiled on recently-restored 140-year-old barn, built circa 1880.

The culturally-attuned display, on the south face and adjacent to the roadside, is contained within a five-acre parcel recently certified (2019) as a bird and butterfly sanctuary by the Illinois Audubon Society, in which sue is a Northwest Illinois Chapter member.

Sue also strives to align her local agricultural and ecological interests as a recently certified master gardener (2019) volunteer, representing the University of Illinois Winnebago County extension office.

Barn quilt block symbolism synopsis

Both the larger structure and central focus of the quiltblock geometry is layered to reflect the trinity, or the triune godhead.  This includes the north star symbol at the center as god the father, or true north, placed just inside a stylized cross representing salvation through christ jesus, and surrounded entirely by a diamond border as the power of the holy spirit sustaining this greatest of all mysteries.

The four corners of the diamond border represent the four points on the compass, where each of the featured symbols carries a very special message, respectively. The heart, to the north, made up of 16 red blocks over a pink silhouette, is a tribute to the 16 most beloved members of Sue’s immediate family, both here and beyond. And, the friendship basket, to the south, made up of numerous green and pink triangles, is a tribute to her many nearest and dearest friends, in whose lives she has shared and cared.

The stylized American flag, to the east, made up of traditional shapes and colors, is a reminder of how each of us represents the character of our country, for naught or for good, whether we fix our gaze easterly toward temporal Washington, or toward our eternal creator as symbolized in the sunrise.

And, the cock crowing, to the west, made up of bright orange and blue hues, is a playful celebration of Sue’s 5th generation family farm and its heritage, culminating in this roadside quilt block mounting on the fully-refurbished barn, originally built circa 1880.

Just as importantly, each major element of the quilt block is imbued with a greater or lesser degree of shining golden light, that both exudes and connects the centrality of love as the greatest of all these, including god’s perfect love at the heart, and how it endows love of family, love of friends, love of country, and love of homestead.

Additionally, the dynamic geometry of the north star elements contain three distinct colors, not only reflecting the triune God as the source of all, but as an explicit recognition of god’s omniscience in silver, God’s omnipresence in purple, and God’s omnipotence in gold.

Finally, from a more time bound perspective, the 80 smaller triangles, crosshatched in silver and purple colors, with just a hint of gold at the corners, represent Sue’s 80 years of life, implying both wisdom and regality, as both matriarch and queen of her uniquely midwestern and faith-centered life story.

Ultimately, all of this is touched in one way or another by cloudless blue sky motifs that remind us all, and especially passers by, to consider our humble place in this endlessly blessed and exceptionally beautiful world, loved unconditionally by god–whomever we are; however we are; wherever we are–always and forever,

One might even call it “The Sermon on the Barn”–amen and amen.

Call 779-234-0550 or email for further information


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