Carving himself a niche with creative hobby – Omaha World

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George Pulliam carves another Santa at his kitchen table.

By Carol Bicak
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER


George Pulliam’s desire to quit smoking about 10 years ago led him to a fulfilling and occasionally lucrative hobby.

When his co-workers were taking a smoke break, Pulliam began to whittle pieces of scrap wood.

“I had to find something to do with my hands,” he said.

One of the things he carved was a Santa. As he created more patterns, it became many Santas. He also carved snowmen and cowboy boots.

As he showed his creations to friends and family members, they began ordering — not just one or two. Sometimes they wanted hundreds.

Pulliam’s career has been full of variety. During eight years in the Air Force, he went from Vietnam to Washington, D.C., where he served on the presidential support team. The team provided security for the president, vice president and visiting dignitaries. He accompanied President Richard Nixon on his historic visit to China.

After the Air Force, he returned to Omaha. He had hoped to be hired by the Omaha Police Department, but it didn’t happen. So he worked security at St. Joseph Hospital, and went back to school, where he studied electrical engineering. That led to 30 years working with computers. He also has been self-employed and has worked on government contracts for Offutt Air Force Base.

Meanwhile, he kept on carving wood and joined the Mid-America Woodcarvers Association. His work continued to evolve and his reputation grew, mostly by word of mouth.

He has pretty much retired from computer work, although he keeps his hand in and helps out friends who are computer illiterate. “It’s unbelievable what you can do with computers,” he said.

Surprisingly, he doesn’t have a website for selling his Christmas ornaments and figurines.

“I thought about going online,” he said. “I just never got around to it.”

Now he’s interested in stock market investments. He can follow his stocks on his computer as he carves.

He lives in the Eagle Ridge subdivision outside Papillion. There aren’t any eagles, he said, but there are lots of owls. They sit on his deck and roof, where they hoot and watch for rabbits — that’s good for his vegetable patch.

If he’s not whittling or working on his computer or pulling weeds in his small garden, you’ll probably find him playing ball with his dog, Ace. “He plays until the balls are shredded,” Pulliam said.

Contact the writer:

402-444-1067, [email protected]

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