By Marsha Sandman | CNA Media Team
When Byron Spice creates a three-dimensional wood sign that says LOVE it’s more than just a word. It’s his life purpose.
Byron calls his sign building business “Blind Expressions by Byron” because he is, in fact, legally blind. When he lost his ability to see completely, due to age-related macular degeneration, he qualified for training at the Oregon Commission for the Blind, where he learned to operate the power tools he uses to make his various assemblies with scraps of lumber.
Byron said “When I look at a piece of scrap lumber I ask, ‘What would you like to become?’ I’m guided by the grain, shape, aroma and feel of it.”
How do his creations demonstrate his love? They are symbols of the generous and caring life he has lived.
As a teenager Byron attended a Christian youth camp near his home in Fort Wayne, Indiana. There he dedicated his life to Christian beliefs and missionary work in Mexico, Paraguay and throughout the United States.
During his time in Mexico he directed the Mountain of Light Farm, which provided housing and educational opportunities for Mexican youth. He is proud that many of his students went on to be educators and community leaders.
Fluent in Spanish, Byron supported ministers and provided leadership to U.S. churches with Spanish-speaking congregants.
Byron said he’s had 33 different addresses in his lifetime.
When he retired from the ministry in 1970, he became a housing consultant for the National Education Association where he developed housing for retired teachers in several states. He also became a practitioner and leader in The Trager Approach, a form of gentle touch and movement.
He has retired quite a few times and thought he and his wife of 40 years would remain at their oceanfront condo in Florida. But with children and grandchildren in the Northwest, he and Kathryn moved to Portland in 2010.
Byron, an engaging and spry 93 year old, said “I’ve gained independence and was introduced to the safe operation of power tools. This opened the door of my creativity and provided a focus for my life.”
Many neighbors and friends are proud owners of signs that shout LOVE, CHERISH, TRUST, JOY, JUSTICE, PEACE, EASE, among other expressions.
Although he’s not looking for orders, you can reach him at Spice.Byron@gmail.com.
After living east, south, north and west, Marsha Sandman is home at last. And she wants to hear your story. Contact her at MarshaJSandman@gmail.com.