Juanita Royal crochets pink and blue baby hats while she watches television.
These aren’t for her family members — although she recently became a great-great-grandmother — but for the babies born at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital.
Fourteen years ago, when the Hugh Chatham Foundation was created in 1998, Royal decided to help with the program by knitting baby hats and lap afghans for patients.
“I thought it was a good program they came up with. At first we were furnishing our own string we were using,” she said. “I told them they should furnish it for us, and now they do.”
Since 1998, Royal has donated 13,000 hours volunteering for the hospital. Each year, she has been rewarded with a pin for her time; the first year was for 100 hours.
This year at the Hugh Chatham Volunteer Luncheon, Royal was astounded when she was told she had volunteered such a large amount of time.
“I just don’t like to sit and do nothing,” she said. “I feel like I need to stay busy while I’m watching TV. I turned in my last batch of hats less than two weeks ago, and now I’ve made 20 since then.”
Royal taught herself to crochet as a young girl and has been doing it ever since. Born in Winston-Salem, she lived on Stone Mountain after marrying her husband, Clay, in 1940.
“We met in church in 1939. We had a farm and raised chickens, had a milk cow, a hog and grew our own vegetables,” Royal said. “We didn’t have to go to the store for much of anything.”
During World War II, Clay Royal took a job at Hugh Chatham Manufacturing and was not drafted since it was an essential job. At the time, Chatham made Army blankets.
The couple lived on Stone Mountain until their property was bought in 1981 and is now camp grounds in the state park.
“We were one of the last properties they bought. We raised chickens for Hollar Farm so they knew they would have to pay us more money for the land,” she said. “It turns out; our land was the most desired the whole time.”
Royal and her husband had six children and 30 grandchildren. They were married 64 years until he passed away eight years ago.
Reach Jessica Pickens at 835-1513 ext. 18 or email@example.com.