Soldotna Community News

Posted: Monday, December 24, 2007

It's Christmas Eve and the elves up at the North Pole just gave a sigh of relief that the toys are loaded on Santa's sleigh. Living here in Alaska, I have a few connections with some of them, and one of them whispered to me the secret of how they learned to make some of their most sought after dolls.

Just like the elves, she's as humble as can be. Hedy Bodle is a world famous doll maker, with renown as grand master champion at the National Doll Show. Her crocheted doll went for two years around the world in doll pageants and competitions in 34 cities. Her doll went to New York, all over Europe and ended in Japan where she took first place and received the title. The winning crocheted bed doll has 48,000 stitches and a 27-inch pillow; the skirt is 68 inches wide and has seven rows of ruffles on it. The doll now resides in the National Doll Museum in New York, with Hedy's name on it as the creator. To be a grand master she developed a new stitch that no one else has or has been in any other book. She also has the rights to all of her patterns; being champion no one else can use her patented patterns. Every detail, from the hair, earrings, style and design of dress are all taken into account.

"The doll has to have something to say, it has to be talking to them," she said, which explains why her doll was so special and unique.

Hedy estimated she has made between 2,600 and 2,700 dolls and she has photo albums of many of them. She also makes a Mr. and Mrs. Claus. She grew up in the mountains of West Virginia where her great-grandmother taught her how to make dolls. She made her first doll when she was 6. Years later in Texas, while she was attending nursing school and working 12-hour shifts at the hospital, she made dolls to pay for her tuition. She worked for 28 years as a nurse. One day a friend asked her to make a doll the very best she could. She entered it in a competition where it took first place.

She loved working with patients. She loves and is drawn to working with the elderly.

"It's amazing what you can learn and the stories they can tell. Our lives are really not that different, just times maybe."

She also loved working in the nursery and helped deliver more than 460 babies.

"It's never more wonderful to see what God created, and a new life coming to start this life," she said with wonder. She also had a foster daughter for eight years that she loved.

"I had the best kid in the world," she said bursting with pride.

Despite many health challenges in her life, she has a wonderful outlook and appreciates the blessings she has. The elves couldn't be luckier to have such a great teacher.

Speaking of elves, every year our family loves to track Santa's flight around the world, especially so the kids know when they have to be in bed. It's fun to hear the military bases around the world spotting him and relaying the information that Santa has stopped by Melborne, Australia, flying over New Zealand and only hours away from your house.

You can check it out on the Internet at, too.

Merry Christmas to one and all from Marlene Lewis and family!

Editor's note: Marlene's last column will be Dec. 31. We will miss her warm and friendly columns and wish her the best in her new endeavors. Beginning Jan. 7 we will welcome Jacki Michels as the new Soldotna Neighbors writer. You may contact her at 262-2471 or e-mail your news, events, birthdays, anniversary and family news to

Other Soldotna news

Dammeyers have a daughter

Colleen and M. David Dammeyer of Soldotna announce the birth of their daughter, Nicole Myra, at 5:47 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, 2007, at Women's Way Midwifery in Soldotna. She weighed 8 pounds and 14 ounces.

She joins siblings, Dyson, Declan, Isaac, Lucy and Alexander. Her grandparents are Bill and Gail Dammeyer of Soldotna and John and Elizabeth McGowan of Wilikes-Barre, Pa.

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