SMALL TOWNS: Dyckesville toy maker proves it’s never too late to start a new hobby

He makes beautiful wood models of things he sees
Updated: May. 18, 2023 at 6:30 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - At 87 years old, Larry Williquette makes incredible wood models of things he simply sees and decides to build.

This week in Small Towns, we pay a visit to his little shop in his basement. That’s where we find Larry beginning his latest creation, making little wooden tires for a camper and fine-tuning them with a sander and router.

And thank goodness Larry says that he’s found this hobby, because four years ago, when he decided the time had come to give up ice fishing, he had a dilemma.

“I quit fishing. That was the sign of going downhill. I couldn’t handle that,” recalls Larry.

Luckily, he didn’t have to fret very long.

“I saw a lady go past the house with her little baby in a cart. I made one, just putzing. I burnt wood in my house here for heat, so I made a wood splitter and some little wheelbarrows. Then it got to be so much fun, I went to our church picnic, they had an old fire engine with a ladder, and I made that and just kept going and going and going,” says Larry.

Larry is proud to show us the last three winters’ worth of his incredibly detailed work.

“Oh yeah, oh yeah, everything better turn. This here now, this little truck here, this has a flap in the back, but it also dumps,” explains Larry with a chuckle.

From tractors and a train to a boat, semi and milk hauler, Larry simply makes what captures his attention.

“There isn’t a nail or a screw in none of that; everything is glued. I never had one pattern. It’s all up here, what I see I can make, and as I’m getting done with one project, I’m already getting involved with what I’m going to make next and that’s the way it is,” says Larry with a smile.

Born and raised in the Green Bay area, Larry worked at Fort Howard Paper Company for 41 years.

While he’s never considered himself booksmart, he admits he has a gift to absorb knowledge.

“My father, he went through the 5th grade, yet when he come into Green Bay with 20 dozen of eggs at about eight or ten cents a dozen and you asked him, ‘Pa, how much money did you get for all those eggs?’ he’d give you the answer, and I think I got that a lot from my dad,” says Larry.

As for how much time Larry spends in his shop each day when the weather is cold, well it just depends.

“Sometimes an hour, sometimes six, seven, eight hours. If you get into something that you can’t quite quit and you got to develop it before you can take a five and get away from it, you got it, you got the wood, get going. I look at it this way: As long as I keep this occupied, that will take care of this and stay out of that chair in the front room,” says Larry.

With warmer days ahead, Larry will soon take a break from his shop and be in his garden or in his boat.

He’ll also be on the lookout for anything that inspires his next batch of models next winter.

“I’ve been blessed. Eighty-seven years old and I still have a lot to do in my life. You can’t possibly imagine what you can develop yourself into if only you would try,” says Larry.

When we asked Larry about the plans for all of his creations one day when he’s gone, he laughed and said with 6 kids and 19 grandkids, he knows they’ll have a good home.