BELLEVUE - Bellevue residents Lorraine and Bob Jeffus have a home filled with antiques and objects from the past, including a grandfather clock from the 1700s, china passed down by their grandparents and plenty of other furniture that was built over a century ago.
“They’re unique,” Lorraine said of her antiques. “You just don’t find things like this. They have a history to them.”
This passion for antiques and history has helped Lorraine become the first vice president of Questers, a nonprofit focused on the restoration and preservation of historical objects. And in June of 2016, she will become president of Questers, which has 700 chapters and more than 11,000 members across the United States and Canada.
Lorraine and Bob first became interested in antiques while living in High Wycombe, England, where Bob was serving in the Air Force as a meteorologist. While in England, the Jeffuses lived in a thatched cottage and admired the old buildings and furniture around them. It was there they started collecting antiques, and to this day many of their antiques are inspired by England and the time they spent there.
“We loved living in England,” Lorraine said.
In the 1990s, they brought many of those English antiques with them to Bellevue, where they restored a home along Bellevue Boulevard. A member of their church who happened to be a member of Questers asked if her Questers group could tour their home, which was their first introduction to the organization.
Today, Lorraine and Bob are active Questers members. Lorraine is also president of the Questers chapter La Bellevue #933, and Bob is president of the chapter Corps of Discovery #1504, one of the newest chapters of the organization.
“It’s marvelous to be able to go back and see the antiques, which have such a rich history of how people lived and where people lived,” Bob said.
One of Lorraine’s chief objectives as president will be to increase membership, especially among the younger crowd.
“It’s a challenge to attract younger people because there are so many demands on their time,” Lorraine said.
When Lorraine was asked to be first vice president a year ago, she knew that in two years she would serve as president. After that, presidents of the organization serve on the board for another two years, a six-year commitment in total.
Lorraine’s position as first vice president involves plenty of traveling, to the annual meeting in places such as Princeton, N.J., and other states to promote Questers and build the organization in states and provinces with fewer members.
The organization began in 1944 as a woman’s organization. Its founder, Jessie Elizabeth Bardens, realized the women at a time needed a focus on something other than the war effort. It started with only 14 members and has expanded to 11,000.
In 2014, Questers gave out $120,000 in grants for preservation and restoration, including a grant given to La Bellevue #933 to restore a stained-glass window at Joslyn Castle.
“It’s a really interesting position to be in because I meet so many wonderful Questers and hear about what they’re doing in their state and communities, particularly in the area of preservation and restoration,” Lorraine said. “That’s one of the most interesting things.”