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Woodcarving keeps retired veteran busy

Staff writer

Woodworkers will be honored Thursday at the Senior Citizens of Marion County annual meeting in Marion.

Keith Holtsclaw of Hillsboro is one of those who chose to be recognized.

“I’m not a woodworker,” he said. “I’m a woodcarver.”

He does relief carving, mainly of wild animals, and small caricatures of animals and people.

“I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t do this,” he said.

The 80-year-old army veteran had a heart attack in December 2016 that appeared to kill him, but an emergency medical technician administered CPR and brought him back to life.

He and his wife, Norine, lived in Emporia at the time. He needed nursing care, so they put him in Salem Homes in Hillsboro, where their daughter, Sarah Holtsclaw, works. After Keith was released, the couple rented a home on South Date St. in Hillsboro.

“I couldn’t think of anything to do,” Keith said. “I started making walking sticks from tree branches.”

Looking for unique sticks, he called a master carver who sparked his interest in woodcarving and showed him how to embellish his walking sticks with carvings. He took classes, bought some carving tools, and got to work.

Woodcarving has turned out to be the perfect hobby for someone in his situation. He is caregiver for his wife, who is partially blind.

He wears a special apron that catches the wood shavings created by his work.

“Norine will watch TV and I’ll sit here and carve,” he said, “and we’re together.”

Holtsclaw plans to bring some of his carvings to the Thursday meeting.

Other woodworkers who will be recognized are Richard Sardou of Marion, Glenn Goertz of Hillsboro, and Mark Whitney of Peabody. They will display photos of some of the furniture pieces they have built.

Last modified Oct. 18, 2018

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