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'An Olathe legend': Late seamstress who altered law enforcement uniforms honored by deputies

Marcia Rider altered uniforms for 30 years
Posted at 8:33 PM, Feb 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-22 06:09:07-05

OLATHE, Kan. — If you’ve sewn on a button, patched a hole, or hemmed pants, you know it’s not an effortless fix.

Marcia Rider, a beloved seamstress in Olathe, made it seem that way.

For Sheila Newbanks, the daughter of Rider, the sewing machine pulls at memories of her late mother.

“We’d get the patterns, I’d help her cut them out, she’d sew them all together,” Newbanks said.

For more than 30 years, Rider was behind the alterations and stitches of each patch for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Med-Act, Olathe police and Olathe fire.

At the age of 90, Rider retired, stepping away from her sewing machine.

“I’ve been here 29 years, and when you first get hired on the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, you get your uniforms, pants, tops and they would tell you to go see Marcia,” said Sgt. Jesse Valdez, with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

Newbanks talked about the love her mother had for law enforcement.

“She loved the men and women of law enforcement,” Newbanks said.

Valdez said Rider handled close a thousand uniforms, and despite the work load, she was always happy to help.

"She’d take in, take out, whatever we’d need to happen — she’d help," Valdez said. "Whether you were a sworn employee or civilian employee, she took care of you.”

Valdez recalled Rider's shop in the Olathe square often seeing hundreds of visitors, gabbing about life, work and the University of Kansas.

“It was kind of like a barber shop for us,” he said.

Valdez remembers Rider fixing his bulletproof vest.

“An Olathe legend,” Valdez said. “She wanted her kids to look sharp, and we did — we owe that to Marcia.”

Newbanks said she treated law enforcement as if they were members of her own family.

“She wanted to take care of them like her kids," Newbanks said. "She wanted to keep them safe and that was the only way she could figure out how to do it."

Newbanks said her mother peacefully passed last weekend.

“It was an honor to serve with her — she served, she had a heart for service,” Valdez said.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office will escort Rider's body with marked units from the funeral home to her grave site on Wednesday.