Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

December 30, 2013

Brushy Creek offers wood caskets

By Michael Schaffer Managing Editor
The Daily Iowegian

---- — Brothers Robert and Steve Young followed different career paths in their lives but they are now both involved in Brushy Creek Crafts north of Plano in Appanoose County.

Brushy Creek Crafts is all about handcrafted wood products and about keeping busy, the brothers said Friday.

"We can make anything out of wood," Robert and Steve said Friday while talking about the business. Except they don't have a laser.

Robert, 80 and Steve, 74, are staying busy by making a variety of handcrafted wood products, a couple of which might surprise you.

How about caskets made from three types of wood — solid red oak, walnut and ash — grown and harvested in Appanoose County with upholstery supplied by Dennis and Judith Miller of Plano. They also make pet caskets in a variety of sizes and prices.

Robert talked about the first and last casket.

The first casket he made five years ago was for the mother of his best friend. He said it gave him a sense of joy words cannot express to be a part of her "home going."

"That's a joy that money can't buy. Part of me was invested in something that was precious to you and money can't buy that," Robert said. "That's a driving factor that keeps this old guy wanting to do what he wants to do."

The most recent casket was sold to a family in Promise City, Robert said, and they were very pleased with it.

"You would have thought that I had specifically made that for that family," Robert said. "They just went on and on. There's nothing like that. And they were just so pleased."

All told, Robert said, they have sold 12 caskets in the last five years, mostly to family members and fellow church goers.

Brushy Creek Crafts has a showroom located at Robert's house and the woodworking shop is located across the street at Steve's house.

They also construct more traditional wood products like furniture, cabinets, molding or trim, ink pens and wood art.

Robert and Steve followed different career paths to get to the point where they are now. But both agreed it was important to stay busy.

Robert's first long-term career was as a home builder and contractor, something he first got a taste of while he attended Bible college in Ankeny.

"While there I went to work for Home Building Contractors," Robert said. "We left Ankeny and moved down to Rathbun Lake where we built a number of new homes."

Robert built several homes in Appanoose County and Heavenly Highway development, including the one he and his wife of 57 years, Janice, live in currently.

Soon after returning to Appanoose County, Robert started Brushy Creek Crafts as a place to show his scroll wood artwork.

Steve was more varied in his career path. He taught industrial arts at N.W. Missouri State for several years before he changed directions and for 40 years he supplied fertilizer to local farmers up until 2007.

Both men agreed it was important to stay busy even if you have retired.

Robert said God made humans to stay busy until He calls us home.

"You just can't do nothing," Robert said, noting most who retire and do nothing end up dying prematurely.

Steve thought it would be a good idea to teach woodworking to men who had retired, but insurance would't allow it, in order to help keep their minds engaged.

"A lot of older gentlemen who are out there who are retired and they pull up a seat and sit down and die," Steve said. "And man it would be good to get them in here and show them a little of woodworking."

Steve said while he was supplying fertilizer his brain was very active thinking about his client's needs.

"You get rid of that, then what are you going to do?" Steve asked.

"Well, here it is," Steve said, as he pointed to the vast array of woodworking equipment they have assembled in their shop. "This keeps the brain from deteriorating."

Robert toward the end of the interview put a finer point on what he and Steve believe in.

What they do is not about the money — some projects only cover cost of materials —but it's more about staying busy.

"The money, that's the bottom issue," Robert said. "We need to stay busy, both him and me. And that's the primary thing why we're doing it. We want to stay busy."

Robert called Brushy Creek Crafts his and Steve's retirement.

Brushy Creek Crafts is located at 13018 137th Ave. north of Plano in Appanoose County. They can be reached by calling (641) 649-2926.