Character Carving


Cree Vicar Dave ~ SASS Life Regulator #49907

Think back to your childhood years.  Besides family members, who most helped shape, guide and challenge you to be better than you ever thought you could be?  For me it was a few select members of the teaching staff at North Intermediate School, in Saginaw, Michigan.  That was where I attended the 7th, 8th and 9th grade years bouncing down the halls of life. 

Some teachers have a way of bringing out the best in their students.  Three teachers come to mind from that era.  Band teacher, Mr. Summerville, (I still enjoy music and continue learning how to play new instruments), History teacher, Mrs. Northcott, ( My acquired passion for history has become a valuable asset for me while writing CC articles) and Mr. Ben Donaghy, Metal Shop.  He was my 8th and 9th grade Metal Shop teacher who helped me to obtain work ethics and skills that improved my life several times for many years after. 

Mr. Donaghy had graduated from college, spent four years in the US Air Force during the Korean War as an air control tower operator and then entered into teaching a couple years before I walked into his classroom.  I loved the class.  It probably helped keep me in school in those “impressionable” years.  Mr. Donaghy allowed his students to learn at their own pace.  This allowed me to achieve skills that I had never dreamed of.  My dad had taught me how to read a tape measure, micrometers, etc.  Then in Metal Shop these were reinforced and put to good use in mastering the skills of soldering, doing tin work, and operating a drill press, lathe and other machinery.  And because I finished all my work ahead of time and in a safe manner I was one of a few he allowed to use the oxygen/acetylene torch set and an electric welder that were in the classroom. 

Several times along life’s road, the knowledge I acquired in Metal Shop helped me to improve my job.  From running a milling machine to landing a position working in the lab machining and testing tensile bars, to serving an Apprenticeship and becoming a Journeyman Millwright, then going on to become an Ordained Minister and High School Shop teacher.  I was the first person in my family line to earn a Bachelor’s Degree.  I owe it all to the LORD my God, my family and to teachers like Mr. Donaghy.  It says in James 3:1 NRSV, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”  In my judgment Mr. D passes the test.  Our two sons also were in his Metal Shop Class as we were living in the area at that time. 

Last year The Vicar’s Wife and I celebrated our “Golden Wedding Anniversary”.  So our children got together and held a 50th party for us.  Because we are involved in Cowboy Action Shooting™ they decided to have a wood carving made of us in our cowboy duds.  After checking around they found a wood carver in Saginaw, Michigan and gave him a photo of us in our cowboy best along with our faithful dog “Sterling Meg”.  And guess what the master carvers name is?  That’s right, Mr. Ben Donaghy.  Come ta find out he started carving a few years before he retired.  He’s a member of the “Tri-City Wood Carver’s” that sports around 100 members.  Their website is:  (then click on Tri-City Carvers Homepage). 

If you check out their websites’ newsletter they often have photos of some of their member’s carvings.  They are one of around 40 clubs in Michigan who belong to the “Michigan Wood Carvers Association” at:

Mr. D teaches some three wood carving classes a year.  He carves any number of items from a 6 foot long fish for a local “Shiver on the River” ice fishing contest, to waterfowl, to small song birds and caricatures, (Such as the one he carved and painted for us).  He was afforded the opportunity to carve a small bird for the White House Christmas tree and presented it to former President George W. Bush & family. 

Well, I cannot tell ya how surprised, pleased and thrilled we were when our kids presented us with this superb wood carving in our likeness.  It proudly sits on a shelf in our living room.  When the missus and I cast our eyes on the carving, it brings to mind great memories from many and few years past. 

Cree Vicar Dave with Ben Donaghy, Master Wood Carver.  It was great recounting old times with my former Metal Shop Teacher.  He did a superb job on the carving of The Vicar's Wife and myself.  We were very pleased with the caricature carving of us.

This is the photo that our son Matt gave to Mr. Donaghy to use as a reference for the carving.

Wood carving of us in Cowboy duds that sets on a shelf in our living room.   The detail is amazing.  The carving brings to mind great memories, past and present.

The Vicar's Wife & Cree Vicar Dave at their big FIVE O  anniversary party.  Several friends and family members came to join in the celebration.  The wood caricature carving of them brought a lot of attention.


If you are in the market for a unique wood carving item; whether for a Match Shooting Award, for a gift or just because, you can contact Mr. Ben Donaghy by phone at:  989-793-2700 or through his club web site at:  then click on Tri-City Carvers Homepage.

Who’s character are you “carving”?

Hope ta see ya on the trail. 

God bless,

Photos by:

The Vicar’s Wife - Indian Paintbrush – Diane Coon - Cree Vicar Dave