Dale Wiley: A Handyman

One of the 18 sewing machines that Marie Wiley has in her husbands shop.

Dale Wiley loved to tinker.

Dale Wiley. Submitted.

“He was handy and clever,” said his wife of 60 years said. “And he was pretty talented.”

Marie Wiley.

For over 23 years, Dale served on the Fort Scott Fire Department as a firefighter. But in his spare time, he began repairing sewing machines. Marie Wiley, his wife is a talented seamstress, who worked at Country Cupboard for several decades.

Before working at Country Cupboard, Marie worked for Helen Carson, owner of Helen’s Fabric,  and Helen asked Dale to repair sewing machines.

“He went to Bernina School in K.C. and also to training in Las Vegas for training,” Marie said. At first he repaired only Bernina’s, but began to tinker with other brands.

TWo of the Wiley sewing machines.

“Sometimes he would spend a couple of hours and sometimes a couple of weeks on a machine,” she said. “Sometimes he had to make machine parts. It had to be done right or he wasn’t going to do it.”

When Dale died on August 23, 2022, there remained 18 sewing machines in his shop that people had given him and he took on to repair.

A Brother Sewing Machine that Dale repaired.

“It was just a hobby for him to tinker around with,” she said.

Besides Bernina machines in the Wiley garage there are Singer, including two antiques, Brother, J.C. Penney, Montgomery Wards, Sears Kenmore, and Husquana Brands, along with two Singers for leather work and two sergers.  A serger trims the seam and encloses the seam allowance or edge of the fabric, inside a thread casing, all in one step, according to thesprucecrafts.com.

A serger that Dale Wiley repaired.

“He repaired no computerized sewing machines, just the heavier old ones with no nylon gears,” Marie said.

One of the sewing machines that sews on leather.

Marie also has eight sewing machines in her sewing room in the house and continues to create cloth heirlooms for her family.

As with her husband, small appliance repair options are dying.

“Small appliance repair is a dying art,” Marie said. “Everything is made to be thrown away when it doesn’t work.”

For more information about the machines, contact Marie at 620.215.2014.



4 thoughts on “Dale Wiley: A Handyman”

  1. So impressive to hear of this talented team. Finding someone knowledgeable about intricate machinery is difficult. You will be missed by numerous folks.

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