By Rose L. Thayer
Killeen Daily Herald
SALADO - Thanks to YouTube, Diane Rose said she's never had so much to do in one year.
Known as the Blind Quilter, Rose was interviewed by Texas Country Reporter's Bob Phillips in October 2008; and when the news program posted the story on the popular video site in January, Rose's talents were opened to a new audience.
A stop in Salado was just one of many speaking engagements on her very busy calendar.
The Salado Ladies Auxiliary welcomed Rose to speak at their monthly program, held Thursday at the Salado Civic Center. Rose shared her testimony and displayed her hand-crafted quilts, dog toys, books and totes - all of which support her Rose of Sharon Ministries.
But Rose wasn't always blind, and quilting wasn't always her passion.
Growing up in the South as the oldest of six children, Rose was always visually impaired by glaucoma, but could still see lights and colors.
A love of country music brought her to Nashville, where she began reporting on the subject. First she began calling in to radio stations with country music news updates.
Rose eventually made a name for herself within the industry and earned a lifetime backstage pass to the Grand Ole Opry.
It was during this time that she decided to have a cornea transplant that would give her full vision. Unfortunately, four days before the surgery was scheduled in 1984, a pressure buildup burst and left her completely blind.
"That first year I was very devastated and very depressed," Rose said. "I did not know how God was going to get me through it, but I knew he would get me through."
Rose decided to move to Texas in 1994, first to Temple and then to Bellmead, where she currently resides.
During a church service, a man came up to Rose and she said he told her, "'God has a special talent for you. You will be unique and one-of-a-kind and inspiring to people all over the world.' I'm here to say that has happened now."
At the time, though, Rose said she thought he was nuts.
"I thought, 'Well, that's a great dream,'" Rose said. "But look who's living it now."
So Rose said she thought about this for a while and she finally asked God, "I follow you, but I don't know what to do. Where are my talents? What are my talents? Please show me."
Within that week, Rose learned how to quilt.
"I've got 13 years and 714 quilts behind me, thank you very much," Rose said.
Through quilting, Rose has met two Texas governors, received the key to Tuscumbia, Ala., the birthplace of Helen Keller, and the Barbara Jordan Media Achievement Disability Award.
"It's important for me to tell you, you can do something with your life," Rose said. "A lot of things have happened to me, and a lot of things will ... The joy of the Lord is your strength."
The Ladies Auxiliary hosts programs once a month. The theme of this year's programs is "Who you are makes a difference," said Ellen Staples, the auxiliary's vice president of programs.
"Everyone has a story to tell," Staples said. "Sometimes it's very hard for women to realize we have worth."
On Sept. 8, Jan Goss, founder of the Austin School of Protocol, will speak at the group's annual membership luncheon at the Stagecoach Inn.
Lunch is $16 and reservations are required. Contact the auxiliary at (254) 947-8687 or (254) 947-8646.
Contact Rose L. Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7463.