Wood Working Wizard

Posted by: Judd Davis - bio | email

Greenville, AL (WSFA) - Even at 91 years old, Billy Steen loves to work.  He's done it all his life.  When he retired in the early 80's the first thing he said to himself, now what?    So he's stayed busy in his shop, he's been working with wood for years.   "I come out here everyday," Steen said.

You name it, he can build it.      "I build coffee tables, sofa, tables, end tables."   And here's the crazy thing, these tables could sell for $400 or $500 apiece, but Steen just gives them away.   You see, Steen is just happy to be doing what he loves, because 6 years ago something happened that could have kept him out of his workshop for good.    "I've been in this wheelchair 6 years."    He suffered a stroke.    "I was paralyzed on the right side."

So with the use of his dominant hand and one leg gone, his ability to make tables or anything else seemed to be just a distant memory.     "I figured it was all over."     Even the people who knew him best weren't sure.     "When he had his stroke I didn't know what to expect, I didn't know if he'd quit," said longtime friend John Bush.

Quitting would have been easy. But while he was in rehab, he made a decision, nothing would stop him from doing what he loved.      "They laughed and said you can't do the work with one arm, I said the heck I can't," Steen said.     So Billy Steen keeps right on cutting, and building with just his left arm, a whole lot of patience, and some skill that's tough for some to believe.   "I  don't see how he does it with one hand but it seems like his work as just as good as when he did it with two hands," said Bush.

For Billy Steen the answer is simple, it's all about attitude.   "I don't know, I just look forward to the next day.    Just because you're paralyzed on one side you can do something.  Anybody can do it, if they try."   A lesson we could all learn from.  A man who looked like he lost so much but in his eyes, he didn't lose a thing.

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