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Larry Butler
A West Virginia Carpenter

by Maricia Mlynek

     

Updated on Wednesday*:

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You might recognize him as the Jewish carpenter, but he is really a West Virginia wood carver.

Larry Butler has portrayed Jesus in the Palm Sunday parade for the last four years. Though he is playing the part of the carpenter from Nazareth, he does know his way around a woodshop.

Butler began carving in 1976. His hobby soon became an art, and he began touring in a circuit that included Parma, Columbus and Avon Lake in Ohio and Livonia in Michigan. He showed his carvings for 12 years and won countless awards. 

His family is from the areas of Normantown and Glenville, but he was born and raised in Elyria, Ohio. He and Gail, his wife of 34 years, lived in Elyria until Butler retired from Lorain Ford Motor Co.

After 30 years of employment with Ford, the Butlers packed up and moved to West Virginia.

Following the move, Butler stopped doing shows, but still carves. He enjoys his retirement and spends time hunting, fishing, and horseback riding.

He is also active in Enon Church, where he has served as Sunday School superintendent and trustee.

He has three children, Kenny Ray, Tammy Jo and Douglas Scott, and seven grandchildren, Jarrod, Anthony, Douglas, Sammie, Danielle, D.J., and Sydney.

 Though his carvings are beautiful and priceless, he has never sold a single one.

“People have wanted to hire me, but I’ve always said no. If I agreed, it would no longer be a hobby, but work. The hours I spend and the time it takes to make each piece is worth more than money,” said Butler.

 

 

With each piece of wood, Butler sees more than oak or pine; he sees what it could be and then makes it happen.

“Each carving I make is like my own baby and, when finished, I could never stand to sell it or give it away. It becomes a piece of me I couldn’t part with,” said Butler.

Some may see a block of wood and think it is worthless, but a designer and carver like Butler sees the possibilities. He sees beyond the surface to the grain and essence of each piece.

He continues to work on each of his carvings with passion and love. It is apparent that he resembles the Jewish carpenter in more ways than the flowing beard and cloak he wears in the Palm Sunday parade; he, too, is a great creator of beautifully designed masterpieces.

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