Therese Park

Happy are Woodcarvers

Fellow senior citizens, if you’re looking for a hobby that’s fun, therapeutic and makes you feel like Michaelangelo for a day or two, come visit Tomahawk Ridge Community Center at 119th and Lowell on Tuesday mornings to meet the Overland Park Woodcarvers.
You’ll see that all the members except one or two are gray-haired gentlemen, that each owns several dozen carving knives in all sizes and shapes, and that they are happily engaged in shaping wood into Santa or an Indian chief or a little animal or a cowboy. Though each member is drawn to the beauty of the wood they are carving, they gather here for different reasons.
“I like it because it makes me proud of myself,” retired salesman Mike Wolfe said. He’s one of the founding members of the group and is the group’s “Coffee Man” who always arrives first and fills the whole place with the rich, roasted aroma. “I strictly sculpt miniature animals, and the greatest moment for me is when I see that a block of wood has turned into a creature with a personality.” His blue dragon is realistic and fearsome,too.
Ken Robbins, another founding member, has a different approach. “I’m not picky as far as choosing the subject. I want to carve. I just enjoy working with wood. I finished carving an Indian chief last week, and now I’m working on this cowboy.” He lifted about a foot-tall, nearly finished cowboy. “If my new project doesn’t cooperate with me, I don’t hesitate to throw away and begin something else but I might keep this one.”
Charles Estevez also loves cowboys. With its thick moustache, his recently carved cowboy looks so much like the carver himself. Altogether he has carved six cowboys, some of them with guns on their belts and some without, some who ride horses and some who don’t. Estevez is not judgmental of his cowboys’ characters or moral standards.
“Woodcarving keeps me out of trouble,” said Jake Schulzinger, and he laughed. Once he had been an industrial engineer but he became a technical writer for a computer company before he retired a few years ago. “Everything I know about woodcarving, I learned from these gentlemen,” he said. “How did I find the group? My wife told me. She belongs to an exercise group here and one day she told me about a bunch of guys in a classroom working with blocks of wood and carving knives. So I came to see what she was talking about. I’m glad that I found a hobby I like and these talented guys. You can learn a lot here!”
Harold Tharp carves a jolly Santa’s face that’s life-size but only about 2 inches thick. Why carve Santa when Christmas passed months ago? “I make them as gifts,” Harold said, adding that the Santa he’s working on is his fifth since last Christmas. “Unless you begin carving early in the year, you can’t make enough to give to all you want to give when the time comes.”
Does carving Santa have anything to do with the carver’s boyhood memories of Christmas morning? A crooked boyish smile spread across his face. “I suppose you can say that!”
To Joe Strobl, a former ironworker, woodcarving has been much more than a hobby; it’s been medicine. In 1998, he had a tragic accident at a construction site in which he was electrocuted and fell 26 feet, and he was in a coma for six weeks. “I don’t remember how it happened; I only remember waking up in an intensive care unit at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, surrounded by nurses and doctors.” After more than six months of lying on a hospital bed, he was released, but it wasn’t the liberation he had hope for. He could never walk again.
In 1999, he joined a 50 Plus woodcarving class at Matt Ross Community Center taught by a well-known artist and teacher named Herbert Cast. Strobl met many experienced woodcarvers with whom he has become friends. “I was only 47 then and was seriously bitter about my disability. But after I began to carve and working with this fine group of men, I was able to distance myself from anger and slowly began to accept the reality that life is given to us as a gift, thus we must enjoy as much we can.”
After Cast’s death in 2008, the group faced a serious challenge: Stay together or disband? The answer was obvious. They didn’t have to search for their new meeting place very long. The group was the remnant of Matt Ross’ 50 Plus program, so Overland Park graciously offered a meeting room at the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center for their weekly gathering. While carving, their friendship thickens.

The Kansas City Star
"Heartland Honor Flight is all about showing our gratitude to those who fought for our country's freedom," the president John Doole says.
During the Korean War, long segregation in the U.S. military ended.
"To win, you must know your enemy," wrote Chinese Ancient General Sun-Tzu (544-496 B.C.)
...their beloved country in whose honor they defended my helpless homeland in the Far East six decades ago has become my own beloved motherland.
To the parishioners at Curé of Ars Catholic Church in Leawood, their pastor is a healer, confessor, teacher and compassionate friend who rejoices with them at happy times and grieves with them at times of loss and injury.
“The truth about Jesus Christ reached Korean soil in 1784," Pope John Paul II said during the canonization of 103 Korean Martyrs in 1984. In a most marvelous way, divine grace moved your ancestors first to an intellectual quest for the truth of God’s word and then to a living faith in the risen Christ..."
During the trip to Korea together, our mother-daughter roles were reversed. My daughter seemed to think that I needed her care, not the other way around.
The Kansas City Philharmonic enriched the lives of many during its 49 years.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Messages on Violence
A Korean Grandma and her American Grandkids
Average people made the world we live in today.
Albert Schweitzer said, “You must give some time to your fellow man. Even if it’s a little thing…for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.”
Pilgrims are everywhere here on the square of the Basilica of Our Lady, some are walking on their knees and some are kneeling at the glass-walled Chapel of Apparition where the Blessed Virgin appeared to three shepherd children in 1917.
Woodcarvers find fun, therapy and friendship
Behind a tough cookie, there's a culture that nourished her soul
Not biting is a sign of appreciation
After Tucsan shooting rampage
Without a healthy brain, one cannot live a healthy life
Thomas Jefferson once said, “The tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of patriots.”
Gen. Douglas MacArthur said, "In War, there is no substitute for victory."
Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues but the parent of all others.
Our home became a church when homeless priests and nuns moved in with us.
Victor Hugo's view of his old age
Forgetfulness comes with aging
Learning is for all ages.
Mixture of feelings about seeing Amercans' departure from my country Korea
Foreigner's view of today's China
The "Wake up call" isn't only for Chinese parents but for all American parents.
The Korean War isn't "Forgotten"
I once had compassion for all caged birds. But since I became a bird-owner, my opinion about them has changed.
South Korea today gives thanks to all American troops who fought to preserve its peace at the cost of their lives.
Pope John Paul II was the first pope to visit South Korea in 1984--to canonize 103 Korean martyrs
The seeds of the Church is the blood of the martyrs.
Column/ Kansas City Star
Father Emil Kapaun: recipient of Medal or Honor 2013
The U.S. government purchased Alaska in 1867 for only $7.2 million dollars from Russia, that includes 500 million acres of land with 3 million streams full of fish and otters, and tall snow-capped mountains providing shelter for bears, moose, mountain sheep and more.
The Best Times
He liberated music from a cloistered form set by earlier composers...
The racial discrimination the white American inflicted upon their black neighbors.
Magazine Article
Traditional Chinese medical doctors have been using bird-nests for centuries to treat respiratory ailments such as asthma and bronchitis, to rejuvenate skin, and to boost energy for both young and old.
It takes courage to deal with the human condition called "aging."
Feature article
Inchon Landing was one of the most successful operations in modern military history.
Magazine Articles
Korean War Prisoner-of War Story