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Published: Saturday, 8/13/2005

Salesman lauded for wood bird carvings

Jack Bond, 87, a pharmaceutical salesman who became renowned for his wood carvings of birds, died Tuesday in St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Ypsilanti, Mich.

He had been in ill health, family members said, and lived most recently in Aspen Grove Assisted Living Residence, Lambertville.

Until the 1990s, Mr. Bond sold his wood carvings of cardinals, blue jays, goldfinches, nuthatches, even toucans, at art fairs in Sylvania and Ann Arbor and at the Crosby Festival of the Arts in Toledo.

He shipped carvings to collectors in Australia and Japan. One holiday season, his carvings were sent as Christmas gifts to England, the Netherlands, and Norway.

"His birds are absolutely gorgeous," his daughter, Mary Sue Forni, said.

Eye problems in the late 1960s forced Mr. Bond to give up his pharmaceutical sales career. His art developed during his convalescence from eye surgery. Seated at his breakfast table each morning, he watched the birds in the backyard of his home in Sylvania Township. He learned to tell them apart and learned their habits.

He had a collection of antique duck decoys and, for fun, picked up a piece of wood and carved a miniature duck. He did so well, his wife, Sarah, suggested he carve more.

He began to carve the shapes he saw flying and feeding in his backyard.

"The more I saw them, the more interesting they were," he told The Blade in 1976. "And the more I carved them, the more accurate I became. Carving opened up a whole new world for me. I was so thrilled that I could make something out of nothing."

He used paint sparingly and took care to allow the wood's grain to stand out, his daughter said.

He'd also go to schools and clubs to demonstrate bird carving and held bird-identification sessions.

Before his eye problems, he'd been a pharmaceutical company sales representative for about 20 years, first in South Bend, Ind., and later in Toledo. He called on doctors' offices, drug stores, and hospitals.

"He really enjoyed that," his wife said. "He liked to talk and was a good salesman."

He told The Blade in 1974 that as a pharmaceutical salesman, he used to go to his customers, while as a carver, they came to him - either at art fairs or at his home studio. But, ever the salesman, he recorded bird songs in his backyard and had the tape playing at his booth at fairs and shows.

Mr. Bond was born in Indianapolis, the son of a pharmacist, and attended the pharmacy college at Butler University.

He was a longtime antique car collector and had owned a 1918 Buick, a 1922 Ford Model-T, and a 1925 Chrysler. He took his cars to shows and to the annual exhibit at Greenfield Village. He was a former officer in the Veteran Motor Car Club of America.

In recent years, he and his wife traveled to Walbridge, where he would photograph trains and railroad workers.

"He could sit there all day," his wife said.

Mr. Bond was a Mason.

Surviving are his wife, Sarah, whom he married Dec. 17, 1937; sons, John Stephen, Randy, Jim, and Bob Bond; daughter, Mary Sue Forni; eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

There will be no visitation. Services will be private. Arrangements are by the Reeb Mortuary.

The family suggests tributes to Assistance Dogs of America, Swanton.



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