Meet your neighbor Burt Praay, pictured above, a retired Korean War veteran and handyman, now keeping busy making nativity scenes and more.
Background photo by Lucas Benjamin
Burt Praay, a Korean War veteran, recently moved from Texas to Lake Columbia, where he now lives with his brother, Terry.
Praay lost his wife of 68 years, Delores (who he still refers to as “my Dee-Dee). His son, who he lived near Texas, will soon be retiring and moving to the Philippines, so Burt decided to move north to be close to family.
Praay is a retired handyman who said he always had work. “I had so many customers that I had to turn them away. I was known as Handyman Burt,” he said with a smile. “Helping someone else always made me feel good.”
He now likes to keep busy in a small woodshop that he has in his back yard making various items, including cut-out mangers, one of which is pictured above.
Burt uses every bit of lumber he gets his hands on, noting that “to me, there is no such thing as scrap lumber.” (more below)
“I love my little shop,” he adds, noting that he considers himself fortunate to have been gifted with long life.
“I saw people blown to bits in Korea who never had a chance to get married, let alone have kids or grandkids. They never got to do all that. And I got to spend 68 beautiful years with my Dee Dee.”
While Burt has had many challenges, including suffering through two strokes and three heart attacks as well as the loss of his wife, you will never hear him complain.
“God has been so good to me,” he said quietly. “I have truly been blessed.”
His most popular items to sell are the manger scenes, which he sells for barely more than the cost of materials.
Burt enjoys visiting with friends and is a regular at the Wilber Bartlett American Legion Post #315.