McQueary leads 'evolving' homemakers

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By Becca Owsley

After teaching at G.C. Burkhead Elementary School for 28 years, Debbie McQueary retired in 2005 and joined a homemakers club. This involvement led her to be inducted as the current Hardin County Homemakers president.


“Debbie is one of the nicest, most genuine and talented people I have ever met,” Hardin County Extension agent Teran Ransom said. “Her attention to detail and sense of community will enable her to make a great (president).”

McQueary was invited by a friend and fellow painter, Byrle Thomas, and joined the Cecilia Homemakers. She’s been president of that club twice.

The Hardin County Homemakers consist of 15 clubs and a few special-interest groups such as the Stitchers Quilt Guild, she said.

“We are very proud of her,” said Cecilia Homemakers Club member Bettina Marple, noting McQueary endears herself to everyone she meets.

As president, McQueary said, she has a wonderful support system of homemakers who volunteer with whatever needs to be done.

Her goal as president is to get more involved in homemakers clubs and for others to see its value.

“Homemakers is a worthwhile and diverse organization,” she said.

The group goes beyond the community and does a yearly international project, such as this year’s project of donating shoes to third world countries.

“Homemakers are generous people and I think the club impacts the community,” she said.

When she first joined, she thought it would be all about cooking and sewing but found the club was about more than that.

“I think homemakers have evolved,” she said.

There are a lot of things homemakers do behind the scenes such as the quilt squares painted on barns and in other locations across the county and raising money for scholarships, she said.

They also teach and take lessons on a variety of subjects which include cooking and sewing but also topics on health, budgeting, estate planning and emergency preparedness.

In August, there was a lesson on gluten-free living, she said.

“I think it branches out beyond the cooking and the sewing and impacts everything we do in everyday living,” she said.

She’s seen a renewed interest in making things from scratch and thinks there are a couple reasons for that. One is economic situations and the other is people’s desire to carry things their grandmothers did into the next generation.

“Some of the young people today remember their grandmother making a quilt or have a special quilt someone made,” she said.

McQueary learned many typical homemaking skills growing up in the Cave City area. She is the oldest of five children and learned by helping her mother.

She also enjoys quilting, sewing and painting on canvas, wood and gourds.

McQueary’s favorite dish to cook is coconut cream pie. While in college, she worked at Mammoth Cave Motel and would sneak to the kitchen to learn from the lady who made fresh pies daily.

Others have enjoyed McQueary’s pie-making skills as well as other accomplishments.

A friend of more than 30 years, Diana McCamish said whether it’s presiding as an officer, teaching an art class or sharing her “delicious coconut cream pie,” McQueary “takes great pride in all she does.”

McCamish taught with McQueary and they’ve been involved in educational, community and art organizations as well as homemakers clubs together.

“I just love her,” McCamish said.

As a leader, McCamish said McQueary “sets a good example for others to follow.”

Because her daughter teaches English in Japan, McQueary has had the opportunity to visit many times and learned a lot about Japanese culture.

She noticed while American homemakers often have to take care of the home and family while balancing careers, many in Japan typically are not employed outside the home.

“On our first trip to Japan, one of my daughter’s friends took us on a sightseeing tour in a neighboring city but had to make sure she was back home in the evening so she could prepare her husband and sons’ dinner,” she said.

Her daughter told her this was very common.

On her most recent trip, she wanted to make her daughter a home-cooked meal but found some challenges when shopping for supplies.

“I found it interesting that we were only able to buy a loaf of bread with five slices and other items only in small quantities,” she said.

In Japan, people buy fresh food daily. Because the homes often are smaller, storage is an issue, she said.

She saw small convenience stores everywhere and some of the major markets were in basements of department stores.

“Food was fresh, but so expensive,” she said. “I actually saw cantaloupes that were nearly $20 in American money.”

On her visits, she also enjoys going to markets and checking out fabric. Japanese quilters do beautiful work, she said.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270- 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

Getting to know Debbie McQueary

  • TV: “NCIS,” “Property Brothers,” “The Andy Griffith Show”
  • Music: Contemporary Christian, classic hits
  • Hobbies: Painting (on canvas, wood and gourds), quilting and sewing
  • Interests: Cooking, reading and travel
  • Favorite authors: John Grisham, Karen Kingsbury and Luanne Rice
  • Favorite movies: ”Apollo 13,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Blindside”
  • Family: Husband, Wendell; a stepdaughter in Campbellsville with three children; a daughter living in Japan