Plymouth’s Woodcarving Club

Plymouth’s Woodcarving Club helps seniors make new friends after retirement.
A selection of Jack Glynn’s carvings.

There is a little-known club that meets Thursdays at Plymouth Creek Center, and the people involved understand how lucky they are to participate in it. The Woodcarving Club, organized by Plymouth’s senior services, has been going strong since the mid-’90s, with members coming and going throughout the years. One longtime carver passed away in June, and his involvement shows just how important the organization is to its members.

Jack Glynn joined the Woodcarving Club right after he retired in 1997, and it quickly became a weekly meeting he looked forward to. His family didn’t quite believe it at first. “My dad was more of an introvert,” daughter Anne LaTourelle says. “For my dad to get involved in something like that was kind of surprising.”

But those are the benefits of clubs designed for retirees. While they might not miss their jobs, they often do miss the interactions and relationships formed by common goals and interests, and that’s what this group is all about. “They got to sit in a room and bounce ideas off of each other. It was good for the camaraderie and sharing of knowledge,” LaTourelle says. As for her dad, “He was well thought of in the group and made some really good friends,” she says.

Her father had previously done acrylic painting, and the transition to woodcarving was pretty flawless. While he enjoyed carving Santas for Christmastime, his favorite things to create were clowns, says Donna Glynn, Jack’s wife. “[But] you can get bored with what you’re doing, so he tried new things, trying to keep it interesting,” Glynn says. “As time went on he started doing caricatures, hobos, fishermen, a skier.”

And that’s what makes woodcarving such a unique hobby—there are so many variations on the same activity. Aside from different subjects to carve, there are several mediums. There’s relief carving, where the carving is done on a flat panel of wood (as opposed to a standing block); there’s even a carver in the class who makes her creations on small, recycled wooden spools. And then there’s the universal truth all carvers understand: “It’s hard to start carving,” Donna Glynn says. “You have a blank piece of wood in front of you.”

When Jack Glynn passed away in June, the Woodcarving Club put his art on display at the center. One of his goals was to get more young people involved in the club. While most of the members are in their 70s and 80s, the club can only survive if recent retirees in their 60s get involved. “It’d be good to have some young blood in there,” Donna Glynn says.

There are, of course, drawbacks to an activity like carving; one is that the materials aren’t cheap. “Many people at the memorial gave money to help supply [carving] materials for those who don’t have resources,” LaTourelle says. Most recent retirees are on a fixed income and don’t have too many disposable funds.

As for Donna Glynn’s involvement, it didn’t stop with her husband’s passing. “When Jack passed, he gave me a check and designated it to take treats to carving,” she says. So, for several months, she continued her Thursday trips to Plymouth Creek Center, bringing treats and issues of woodcarving magazines and patterns.

For members, those Thursday meetings last from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., though people can arrive later and leave earlier. “It’s been a nice transition,” LaTourelle says, to have a group of people who knew Jack well and can reflect on her dad’s life. “It was such a passion of his, that club. It speaks to the quality of life in Plymouth.”


Interested in Plymouth Woodcarving Club? Have questions? Call 763.577.9786.
Plymouth Creek Center 14800 34th Ave.
Meetings: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays, year-round
Cost: $20, annual membership fee + $9 user fee, $11 for non-residents.