For anyone who grew up in this area, there’s a pretty good chance that growing up, they or someone they know have crossed paths with lifetime resident Herman Koenig. From mechanic, to farmer to construction worker, there’s virtually nothing this man cannot create with his hands. From his Clarksville home to the barn/garage outback, and everything between the two, Koenig has been assembling everything he can fix-up or create.
But this weekend, it’s his wood-turning talent that will be honored as the St. George’s United Methodist Church’s first live and silent auction fundraiser. On Saturday, Sept. 29, the event will kick off with his featured works, amounting to nearly 100 pieces.
“It’s nice that people recognize me for doing something I love to do,” Koenig said this week.
The church’s cemetery may be the most recognizable aspect of the property, although many feel that there was more to in than that. Three tall oak trees, which once stood over the front of the church, were removed from the property last year, after aging for centuries.
“People didn’t want to see them go,” Koenig said. “I thought I could do something to help them remember their church, which has stood there for quite some time.” After only a few months, Koenig transformed aged and withered trees into priceless keepsakes, from pedestal bowls and jewelry boxes to candlesticks and picture frames.
Wood-turning has always been a joy for Koenig, who works out of his own shop at his home, and taught the drafting and shop classes at Lord Baltimore School, prior to its change to an elementary school.
After cutting the large pieces leftover from the trees, Koenig returned them to his shop and began working – sharpening, sanding and carving them down to fine crafts pieces.
“The character of the wood, the stains and everything that comes through,” Koenig said, “really make each one a little different.”
The decision to donate the crafts to charity was a simple one for Koenig to make. “You never get your money’s worth with crafts,” he said. “I found that I was better off doing something like this.”
Restoring the meaning and memories behind unforgotten scenery in the area is something Koecing’s deal with before. An explosion at Clarksville’s Goodyear Tire Service Center in October of 2003 wiped out a row of trees in front of the Koenigs’ front yard.
Also destroyed in the fire was a large oak tree that his daughters and other children in the area had always climbed. Neighborhood kids often frequented the tree as a safe-haven to play and pass the time.
“It was great,” recalled Beth Allen, Koenig’s youngest daughter. “Mom could watch us while we played,” she said, “and parents around the neighborhood knew where their kids were all the time. Dad made us everything we could want here.”
Koenig stressed the importance of preserving the memories of the town. “Everything has changed over the years,” he said. “Now, I can make something for people that’s special to them, and something that will remind them of how the town was.”
He’s worked with everything from maple to black cherry, but it’s the oak that has the greatest significance to the church. Prior to the church’s relocation in 1816 from the piney woodlands of Dagsboro, it stood among pines. Now, situated at the corner of Omar Road and Route 26 Extension, the oaks are the dominant trees.
“Turning old trees into these wonderful pieces is really incredible,” said Allen. “Now, people can actually have a childhood treasure. I thought it was one of the most brilliant things he could have done. It gives you something that was part of your life: a keepsake to keep with you.”
The festivities will begin on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 1 p.m. at Saint George’s United Methodist Church in Clarksville, and will run until roughly 3:30 p.m. Registration for bidding numbers, which will start at 12:30 p.m., costs $3 per person or $2 per couple.
In addition to the silent and live auctions, attendants will have the opportunity to bid on gift certificates and prizes from area businesses, and on other local crafts, including needlework.
All proceeds will go to the parsonage fund, raising money for the newly constructed parsonage, along Omar Road, directly adjacent to the cemetery.