SOUTH BELOIT, Ill. (WIFR) - - Lora Conrad has been making memory bears for over 40 years. She says it all started when she saw fabric she liked and decided to make a bear out of it.
"I loved it! I showed it to people and started getting orders here and there, just word of mouth,” said Conrad.
Lora says she's made hundreds of bears for all occasions.. But especially for those who have lost a loved one. By using fabric from an old shirt or garment she says she helps keep memories alive.
"My former husband and his wife were killed in a head on collision, so I made memory bears for all my children and grandchildren."
Lora's daughter Nancy has one of those bears.
"When I look at those bears out of my dads shirts, I remember him sitting at Christmas in that shirt,” said Nancy GeRue. “I remember that summer when he had poison ivy so bad, but he wore this long sleeve shirt, all bandaged up... So he could take my kids to the pool. It's my dad, and he's there, and I can have a piece of him with me every day."
Not only have these bears been served a support for others. But, lora says they have been her saving grace.
"I was diagnosed with incurable cancer and I am doing great, really. This has helped me get through a lot of rough spots,” said Lora.
You can take a look at all the bears she has made over the years here: