In July 2017, Burgess Marshbanks of Buies Creek, North Carolina, wrote to Southern Living. In a four-page letter, the former dentist and military veteran wrote about his story, one that isn't so common for a 94-year-old.
"Five years ago, as I approached my ninetieth bithday (now ninety-four), I knew the shadows were long, so I wanted to do something I had never done in my lifetime; something different, something exciting, maybe even something outside the box. Mary Jane (my wife) and I talked about the possibilities. We talked about travel, maybe even travel to exotic places, but nothing seemed to fit. Besides, Uncle Sam scratched the travel itch for three years, seven months, and fifteen days during WWII. Since then, travel hasn't been my first priority.
But one day, when we were discussing what I might do, Mary Jane casually mentioned how we had always enjoyed riding through the mountains and seeing where artists had painted quilt patterns and had placed those patterns on their barns, garages, porches...then she said, 'Why don't you paint a quilt pattern for one of our barns?'"
Burgess told his wife that if she'd design something she wanted painted, he would take a crack at it. Now, Burgess' once-new hobby has become a source of "real joy" in his life.
"An interesting thing happened to me while working on that first painting. Effort became interest, and interest became real joy. What began as a chore became a mission. I could hardly wait to finish that one so I could do another, and another, and another."
Although word's gotten out about Burgess' colorful hobby, he is very adamant that he will never, ever accept any sort of payment for his paintings. "My joy is painting the patterns, and then giving them away." He also hopes to inspire others his age to "get off their couches and do something they've never done."