Hospice patient continues passion for wood carving


GREENVILLE — At age 99, Thomas Whitton maintains the charm and smile of his youth. His hair is still cut like the young, fit Marine he once was. He now receives care from EverHeart Hospice, choosing to spend his time comfortably.

On his countertop sits an assortment of hand carved statues. During a visit, Whitton’s Hospice nurse, Molly, took notice of the statues and their beautiful craftsmanship.

In one of the statues, a polar bear sits perched on a piece of ice, waiting for just the right moment to plunge into the water. No details are left out. Even the texture of the fur and color of the claws are shown in the piece. The polar bear is extra special to Whitton, as it was awarded first place at the Darke County Fair.

The other wood pieces include a chain link that was carved from a single piece of wood and a colorfully painted clown. There are also three little men, reflective of ancient artifacts. Each man is the exact same template, other than the direction they are facing.

Whitton graduated from high school when he was 18. Just one week later, he enrolled in the Marines. He completed four years of service, spending some of this time in Japan. He was also involved in the Pacific Theater, a vast battleground of World War II.

Carving wood is a hobby that Whitton started decades ago. When he lived in Florida, he connected with a wood carving club where he learned the skill. His toolset includes four different sized gauges and several different knives. The finished pieces are also sanded and later painted. In total, his pieces usually take around 40 hours to complete from start to finish.

The very first piece he ever carved was the head of an eagle. The bird is mounted on wood and hangs on the wall like a plaque.

Over the years, Whitton has enjoyed the fun of entering his wood pieces in the display at the fair.

When asked if he looked forward to checking on them the first day to see if he had won any ribbons, he didn’t say anything, but the big grin and gleam that was shown in his eyes let on that he was proud of his work and looked forward to the event.

Nature has always been an inspiration for Whitton’s work. In addition to influencing his carvings, he also enjoys taking walks and hiking through the woods. Some of the other projects Whitton has in his collection are a kangaroo with a joey in the pouch, several different deer, a lily, and a mountain man. He also has a buffalo that he made early on in hobby practice, and today his son owns that piece.

Many of the pieces that Whitton makes are elaborate, but they are still carved from one piece of leftover scrap wood. He has crafted work boots, cowboy boots, and a ball and chain inside a cage. He also made a Sea Captain on Liberty with a sea bag and hat pulled down covering his eyes.

Whitton does not have a favorite piece, but if he had to pick, he likes deer because they remind him of his time in nature. He shared that he likes to have several projects going on at a time since they do take a while.

The wood pieces on the counter in Whitton’s room are a reminder of who he is, who he was, and who he continues to be. There is dignity in every moment of life, and hospice helps maintain that respect and identity for patients. Yes, they are patients, but first and foremost, they are always people. EverHeart Hospice is proud to share their stories.

To learn more about EverHeart Hospice, visit their website at everhearthospice.org.

No posts to display