Meet the Woodsman, Don Danford

Carving out his place at Copeland Oaks:

  • 2-year Copeland Oaks Resident
  • Retired Police Officer and Superintendent of the Louisville Water Plant
  • Facilitator of the Copeland Oaks Carvers
  • First place winner at the 2017 Leading AgeArt Competition
  • Restores old cars in the winter time

Every time Don Danford looks at a piece of wood, he sees an image.

“Carving is the easiest hobby in the world,” says Don who is the facilitator of the Copeland Oaks Carvers.  “All you have to do is whittle away what doesn’t belong there and the image appears.”

His artistic talents are evidenced in a piece of gnarled wood he masterfully turned into a coiled snake. “We were working to repair a broken water line when we dug out a huge tree root.  As soon as I saw it, the snake appeared around the root,” he remembered.

Sounds simple, but many of the images Don sees in a variety of woods are very intricate designs. Currently, his hobby has lead him into making canes and walking sticks, many of which he has presented to friends and family members.

One of his canes won first place in the 2017 Ohio LeadingAge Art Competition held recently in Columbus.

Equally at home with a chainsaw and a knife, the largest creation Don has made from wood was a bigger than life bear that he carved from a tree stump. He donated the bear to the University of Mount Union Nature Center in Alliance where he served as a volunteer for many years.

Always a man close to nature, Don farmed land in the Louisville, Ohio, area for many years.  “The growing season was always very busy, but, during the winters, I enjoyed restoring antique cars and trucks,” he reminisced. A master of many trades, Don was a Louisville police officer for 14 years and superintendent of the Louisville Water Plant for over a decade before retiring. Don’s definition of retirement is a bit unusual as he worked for another 13 years as the custodian at the Union Avenue United Methodist Church.

Among his creations on display at his Copeland Oaks villa is a replica of a 1932 Model A truck. To make the authentic reproduction, Don worked 130 hours and used 8 different kinds of wood. In a tiny crate in the bed of the truck is a pig, one of the animals Don raised on the farm.

Combining his love of nostalgic vehicles and his woodworking talent, Don turned the golf cart he and his wife use for transportation around the Copeland Oaks campus into a replica of a Jeep Wrangler sporting an American eagle on the hood. Don can also be seen cruising around campus on his recombinant bike with Mindy, the couple’s Shitzu puppy in a basket in the back.

Although Don’s hobby has transitioned to making smaller items, he has built many pieces of furniture, several of which the couple is using in their villa. One of the most elegant pieces is a solid cherry hutch and buffet which features pegged joints.

Since moving to Copeland Oaks 2 years ago, Don is spreading his love of woodworking with other Copeland Oaks residents who meet weekly in the Creativity Center to share ideas and techniques and chat while carving.  Don and Carol said they moved to Copeland Oaks because they, “heard such good things about the campus lifestyle from many friends,” says Don. “One of the best things we have ever done.”