In tribute: Christmas baby was crafty lady

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Carmen Greathouse was an artist on the job, an artist in the kitchen, and an artist in charity.

She was also a dedicated mother, family members said.

A Portales resident, Greathouse died Sept. 28 at age 76.

“She was excellent,” said daughter Tomma Irvine. “She was always there. She always had time. Not just for me, but all the kids.”

Greathouse was born Christmas Day of 1920 in Newport News, Minn., and her spirit of giving was evident when she would make 100 gifts for Portales’ annual Mayor’s Christmas Tree event, or help out anybody else who needed it.

“If there was a fundraiser and they needed a quilt for an auction, she would do it,” Irvine said, mentioning how she helped a group make 81 quilts after Hurricane Katrina.

“Our daughter was outside of Biloxi, Miss.,” Irvine said. “It rolled right over her. She couldn’t get (the package) together fast enough.”

Other projects included paintings and oak furniture Irvine said was being shipped to her home in Hawaii. Irvine and others joined Greathouse’s hobbies to spend quality time with her, but she said nobody even tried to keep up.

Greathouse was working on more than a dozen quilts when she died, some of which are at the Patchwork House. Owner Judy Matthews said the precision in Greathouse’s quilts are pretty rare for quilters.

“Carmen was a very gracious lady,” Matthews said. “We enjoyed her as a customer. She did great work. She was a meticulous piecer (with) a good sense of color.”

That color sense made her a natural paint mixer at Pete Greathouse Paint Store, which she and husband Pete ran.

“She could match any color of paint there was in the world without a computer,” said nephew Lyndon Greathouse, who worked at the store.

What stood out to Lyndon was her cooking ability, though.

“I gained 20 pounds every time I worked for them,” he said with a laugh.

Angelia Mace, a niece, remembered Carmen’s cooking as well, with succotash and mashed potatoes every Christmas before they’d go to the midnight candle service at First Presbyterian Church in Portales.

“Carmen added a different dimension to my life. She was a really neat lady.”

In Tribute is a regular feature. To suggest an honoree, contact CNJ managing editor Rick White at 763-6991 or by e-mail: