Decatur man receives thank you' from President Bush
WOOD CARVINGS n Hansel Reeves of Decatur shows off many of the wood carvings he has created for the past 15 years. Reeves took up the hobby after he retired from the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Penny Randall/The Meridian Star
Sept. 4, 2001
When Hansel Reeves of Decatur retired from the Mississippi Highway Patrol in 1986, he decided a hobby was what he needed.
Little did he know that years later his wood-carving hobby would bring him a personal "thank you" from President George W. Bush for personally crafting him a desktop name plate.
Reeves said he decided on the hobby after noticing the work his son-in-law did with a band saw. Over the years, Reeves' hobby has turned into a passion with name plates being his specialty.
The following weekend, Reeves was listening to the 3rd District congressman speak. Afterwards, he was greeted with a "thank you" from Pickering.
As they stood near the head table where Pickering's predecessor Sonny Montgomery sat, the former congressman overhead the conversation and said "mine's in Washington, D.C." referring to the name plate Reeves had made for him.
He admits he has made hundreds of name plates over the years, including ones for all the senators and congressmen he can think of.
His next step was to make one for President Bush.
In May, Reeves' daughter, Paula, and her husband, Ronny Harris, captain of the honor guard for the state Department of Transportation, were invited to Washington to participate in a ceremony.
They volunteered to take the name plate and deliver it to the president.
Reeves' daughter and son-in-law didn't get to leave it with Bush, but they did get to speak to U.S. Sen. Trent Lott whose desk also has a name plate made by Reeves.
They left the president's name plate with Lott, who then gave it to Bush.
Reeves has had no training or taken any classes. He said his talent comes naturally; when he sees something he likes, he returns home to his shop and reproduces the pattern.
Cedar is his favorite type of wood to carve, because of its color.
A few of his other creations include a wooden cross with the word "Jesus," a sheriff's badge with a star in the middle and a collapsible wooded basket in about 100 different patterns.
Reeves and his late wife, Virginia, were married for 56 years. They have four daughters, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchild. He attends Decatur United Methodist Church and enjoys playing with his 3-year-old Red Terrier, J.J.
Penny Randall is an editorial assistant at The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3216, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.