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Deaf woodworker got plenty of help from Rehab Center

From: Mansfield News Journal - Mansfield,OH,USA - Feb 6, 2004
By K.O. Jackson News Journal

JEROMESVILLE -- The constant hum from the furnace calls you downstairs.

Nine steps down -- past a vast collection of ball caps -- lead to a tiny wood workshop with one machine.

Nearby, between a white washer-and-dryer set, are three more machines and assorted stacks of wood, paints and other supplies.

The drill's whirling sound -- making a potty chair -- blends with the furnace's hum, but Larry Titus Sr., can't hear any of it.

Larry, 60, has been deaf since he was 7.

He can make potty chairs, key chains, colorful trains and just about anything else that can be made with wood.

He uses a silver cane to walk and steady himself as he gets up from a chair. Larry has limited movement in his arms and legs.

This injury resulted from a 1980 snowmobile accident -- the first and last time he rode one.

His wife of 38 years, Kathy, jokingly said the ride was "fun while it lasted."

The house they have lived in for more than 30 years is decorated with many of Lary's wood creations, including "I love you" ornaments, clocks and pens.

Larry doesn't consider himself disabled.

He's just a man -- even if it takes him a while to make it downstairs to his woodshop --who "can't stand to sit around."

"He does a little bit of everything with wood and I am so proud of him," said Kathy, 58. They have three children and eight grandchildren.

"Anything they want, he makes it for them. I still have the first thing he made 20 years ago, a bread box. I am very proud of what he does. I get the first one of anything he makes. In fact, our rule is when he makes something, I ask, where's mine?"

Before his accident, the West Virginia native didn't work with wood. He worked in the newspaper business and with a Mansfield screw-and-bolts business.

After his snowmobile accident, Larry said he knew he had to "find something to do" once he was released from the hospital.

For whatever reason, he said, he chose woodworking.

"I knew I couldn't go back to work," he said through an interpreter, "but I knew I couldn't sit around and do nothing. I wished I would've learned this (woodworking) when I was in the West Virginia School for the Deaf.

"I don't sell my items. I do display them at some craft shows in Columbus and Kentucky."

Kathy, who has suffered a stroke and can't make it downstairs to her husband's wood shop, said Larry can "accomplish anything he wants when he sets his mind to it. I can't say enough how proud I am of him."

Larry isn't keeping his success to himself.

Since 2000, he has been president of the Mansfield Club of the Deaf. Each year he donates money to the Rehab Center, which assisted with his hearing and physical disability.

This Saturday the Rehab Center will have its 13th annual telethon from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Westfield Shoppingtown Richland.

Representatives of local organizations and businesses will staff phones from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Throughout the day there will be performances by area talent; appearances by SpongeBob Squarepants, Miss Ohio and clowns; face painting; storytelling; and other activities.

Last year, the Rehab Center served more than 900 clients through its programs.

Money raised from the telethon will assist pepole like Larry; people who want to help others.

At 60, Larry has pain that makes it difficult for him to work for more than an hour at a time in his workshop.

But those workshop hours are the moments he looks forward to the most each day. He may not hear the treasures he makes, but he can see the smiles they bring.

"I just love this. I work down here every day," Larry said. "I am going to keep on trying this. I try to do a little bit of everything (with wood). It keeps me occupied."

For information about the Rehab Center call (419) 756-1133 or visit

(419) 521-7240

Copyright ©2004 News Journal. All rights reserved.



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