Keeping the ARTS alive at Lake of the Ozarks

Lake Area Woodcarvers Guild

The Lake Area Woodcarvers Guild is a group of artisians that have gained recognition due to their project of carving Bald Eagle heads for canes donated to disabled veterans.  Their youngest member is 14 years old, so age is not a criteria for membership.  The Guild meets on the third Monday of each month at the Camdenton United Methodist Church, just a few blocks west of the square on hwy 54.  There is free carving from 6:00 to 7:00 and the meeting starts at 7:00 p.m.

There is also open carving at the Laurie Senior Center each Wednesday from noon to 2:30 p.m. and the Camdenton Senior Center on Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. till noon.

If you’ve got a sharp knife and enjoy carving you’re more than welcome to join us.

For more information call:

Loren Woodward at (573) 374-6603


Richard Wallace (573) 346-3859.

Club crafts special eagle canes for veterans to be dedicated Tuesday

By Samantha Edmondson

The Lake Today

More than 25 hand-carved wooden canes have been created for Midwestern wounded warriors of the Iraqi and Afghanistan conflicts over the last year. These decorated canes with hand-painted medals of honor, such as the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, are topped with a bald-eagle head, ornately carved to serve as a walking device and symbol of these soldiers’ acts of heroism.

Behind these efforts stand American veterans, community leaders and dedicated individuals who admire these young men’s service and want to help in their recovery — the Lake of the Ozarks Woodcarvers Club.

This Lake-based organization is the first and only in Missouri to join the ranks in the Eagle Cane Project, a nationwide program that calls upon woodcarvers to create customized, handmade canes for wounded soldiers and veterans.

“We are the first ones in Missouri and hopefully we won’t be the last,” said Bud Murray, Lake Ozark Woodcarvers Club member. “These military men often need these aids after they return home, and we want to help them in any way we can.”

They began their part of this project more than a year ago, but now, because of their successful efforts, have a new duty to complete. They are designing six eagle canes for veterans of past wars.

On Tuesday, the Lake of the Ozarks Woodcarvers Club will present six specialized eagle canes to three World War II veterans and three Vietnam veterans at a special ceremony at 7:15 p.m. at the Marine Corps League, Lake of the Ozarks Detachment #1137 headquarters off Missouri 42 in Osage Beach.

The guests of honor, Marine Corps League Auxiliary members, Lake of the Ozarks Woodcarvers Club members and eagle cane crafters, family, friends and Lake Area community are invited to witness this special presentation, hear of these men’s heroic acts and honor their service to our country.

Murray said they have been working on these canes, primarily for Missouri wounded warriors of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. However, when chatting with the son of one of the World War II veterans, Lt. Col. William H. Godbey, and members of the Marine Corps League detachment, he realized the need for other veterans of the U.S. military.

“A couple of the Marines met me down at the Camdenton Senior Center (where club members and others meet every Thursday to carve wood), and were asking about the Eagle Cane Project,” Murray said. “They told me about some of the World War II heroes that live right in this area, and the son of one man who was also interested in carving. We talked about the project and the son asked if we could do it for his father, who is in his mid-80s. We typically do the canes, through the project, for Iraq and Afghanistan conflict soliders, but said, ‘We’d do it.’ So we’ve been working on them and are excited for the big presentation.”

Murray said Godbey, a former commander of the Marine Corps League detachment and still active member in fundraising and helping to get the detachment established, served in the Marine Corps as a fighter pilot. He was shot down at sea and lived three days in a lifeboat before being taken to safety. He also was shot down during the Korean War behind enemy lines. Murray said Godbey, with a broken limb, was able to make it successfully back to an American base by traveling at night.

“He truly is a decorated war hero living right here in Camdenton,” Murray added.

Other veterans receiving eagle canes include an Army World War II veteran who served in five of the six major battles on European soil. The Navy World War II veteran was on one of the ships that was on site during the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Three Vietnam veterans with heroic service medals also will receive the special eagle canes and will have their specifications detailed to their certain accolades they’d like represented.

As with other wounded soldiers or veterans in the Eagle Cane Project, they are paired with participating clubs and woodcarvers close to their hometown. However, with the high demand of canes needed, certain participants, such as the Lake Ozark Woodcarvers Club, are matched with any soldier in need.

For example, the organization works on the grip of future canes that links these soldiers together — the eagle head. Murray crafted the eagle head model to help his fellow carvers keep consistency with the cane’s grip. However, the rest of the cane is customized to the soldier’s specific recommendations of patches, badges of honor and other military insignia.

Murray said one of the first canes he made was for a wounded soldier who is from Kansas and served in the Iraqi conflict. He requested six to eight different emblems to be painted onto the cane base.

“He wanted patches such as the Purple Heart and Combat badge, but he also wanted other emblems that we had to research, print out and copy onto the cane,” he added.

After the canes are carved and patches are placed, Murray and his fellow woodcarvers then make different grooves and designs on the cane. They are then hand-painted and stained.

Once the cane is complete, Murray packages the cane and ships it to its rightful owner. He said the program is working with Soldier’s Angels, a nationwide organization of military nurses that helps soldiers and veterans and is willing to pay for the shipping. However, Murray said he and his peers do not mind footing the bill for shipping costs, materials or their time in the Eagle Cane Project.

Murray read about the Eagle Cane Project in a magazine and contacted its lead organizer, Jack Nitz.

Since many of the Veterans presented on an ABC segment displayed leg wounds and amputations and would most likely be using a cane at some time, Nitz thought woodcarvers could carve symbolic “presentation” canes — not as an everyday use object — but as an artistic representation of our support and respect.

“After making a sample cane and showing it to several of the Eastern Oklahoma Woodcarvers Association members, the project was presented to the Club in April 2004 by member Stan Townsend and again by myself in May of 2004 when it was approved as a club project,” Nitz noted on his website. “A group of Texas carvers soon joined the project and with the inclusion of an article on the project in one of our national carving magazines, more carvers nationwide became involved (about 40 club representatives or individuals in all).

“It’s the least we can do for a such a worthy cause.”

Many of the Lake Ozark Woodcarvers Club members are veterans such as Murray, who served in the United States Air Force during the Korean conflict. For them, the Eagle Cane Project is time well spent doing something they love, and is a selfless act to help a fellow soldier.

“We want these soldiers to know we admire what they’ve done,” Murray said. “It’s a sign of remembrance, and we want them to know that they are not left behind and will not be forgotten.”

The Lake of the Ozarks Woodcarvers Club meets at 7 p.m. (with an open carve from 6-7 p.m.) the third Monday of each month at the Camdenton Methodist Church. For more information about the Eagle Cane Project, visit For more information about the Lake Ozark Woodcarvers Club, e-mail Bud Murray at or call the Lake Arts Council office at (573) 964-6366.

For more information about the Marine Corps League Lake of the Ozarks detachment No. 1137, call 573-0348-5575.

(Photo by Samantha Edmondson) Jim Worstell, left, and Richard Wallace carve away at their latest projects and discuss their progress on their eagle cane work for the upcoming veteran dedication and presentation ceremony on May 11 while at their weekly woodcarving gathering at the Camdenton Senior Center.

Ray Fisk follows the eagle head cane steps as he crafts the grip of the cane.

(Photo by Samantha Edmondson)