Elgin dentist Dawn Silfies is an award-winning quilter, whose current work to commemorate the Illinois bicentennial should be ready to display at the Illinois State Fair in Augusts. (Mike Danahey / The Courier-News)
Dawn Silfies may be unique among Elgin dentists in that she makes house calls to her patients, but what also sets her apart is her ability to make award-winning quilts.
The one she’s currently putting together is in honor of Illinois’ 200th anniversary of becoming a state, a crazy quilt that’s part applique and part embroidery.
“I’ve had fun making it,” said Silfies, of Warrenville.
Being a member of the Elgin Area Historical Society and the Illinois Historical Society inspired her creation, which she said she started in November. So far, it features patches commemorating Barack Obama, Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln and a fourth for Ronald Reagan is in the works — all presidents with ties to Illinois. Others depict comic strip characters associated with the state, including Dick Tracy, Popeye, Superman and Little Orphan Annie.
There’s a U.S. flag with 21 stars, the number when Illinois became a state, and an all-embroidered state seal, which is one of her favorite parts, she said. She’s still figuring out what to create to represent Elgin.
“I still have plenty of quilt to put stuff on,” Silfies said.
Silfies said she hopes to have the piece finished by July 15 so she can display it at the Illinois State Fair in August. The plaques on her office wall the quilting awards she’s received from events across the Midwest, particularly at the DuPage County Fair.
Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carol Gieske said she not surprised by Silfies’ dedication to her hobby as she brings the same quality to her patients.
“Dawn is quiet, humble and one of those people who get things done,” Gieske said.
“Dawn sees more than 200 patients from Elgin and Aurora each year who are from the Association for Individual Development, and has for years,” she said. “She has participated in the Dentists with a Heart for over 20 years, providing free dental care for those who have no dental insurance or the means to pay for services. She still does house calls for some patients who are no longer able to visit her office and visits patients at seven senior care facilities. She also participates in a new program started this year for exclusively for military veterans.”
Silfies has been a dentist for 30 years, and runs her practice with the principles she was taught as a child, she said.
“I’ve always wanted to give back. That’s the way I was raised,” Silfies said.
She’s also is a bit of a pioneer in dentistry. When she studied at the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine in Alton, she was one of just a dozen women in a class of 200. She knew from the time she was a child that she wanted to be a dentist, she said.
“I went to the dentist, and he told me it wasn’t going to hurt when he would drill a tooth for a filling,” Silfies said. “But it did. I flinched, and he wound up drilling into his thumbnail. When I got home I told my parents that he lied to me, that I could be a better dentist than he was.”