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
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.
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