Horace F. 'Skin' Nearhood, 1924-2013: WWII vet creative as bricklayer, wood carver


Horace F. “Skin” Nearhood, who was an artisan on and off the job, as a career union bricklayer and then in retirement as a wood carver, died Tuesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue. He was 88.

He had congestive heart failure, his son Charles said.

Mr. Nearhood, formerly of West Toledo, lived since January in Lutheran Village at Wolf Creek in Springfield Township.

He was a member of Bricklayers Local 3 and retired at age 65.

In his trade, “at the end of the day you could step back and look at what you created,” his son said. “He enjoyed that.”

Ron Keller, also a bricklayer, said: “He was just creative. ... He did some beautiful things in brick and block.”

Mr. Nearhood for many years was a subcontractor and worked on houses, nursing homes, and warehouses.

“He was sort of a parental figure for me and some of the other guys we worked with,” said Mr. Keller. “We learned a lot from him and had a lot of fun.”

Mr. Nearhood tried stained glass and painting. Then he took a wood-carving class with friends in Frankenmuth, Mich.

“A lot of those guys became founders of the Black Swamp Woodcarvers,” his son said. Mr. Nearhood was a former president and took part in weekly gatherings, where carvers often worked on a group project, such as a carousel horse, to be auctioned at the annual show. He also had solo projects, sometimes with several in various stages of completion.

“He could look at a picture, one dimensional, and turn that into a three-dimensional object. That’s not easy to do,” said Chuck Reynolds, a retired teacher who became a Black Swamp Woodcarver. “He was an extremely gifted man.”

Macular degeneration forced him to stop woodcarving about a year ago, his son said.

Born Aug. 24, 1924, he was a graduate of Blissfield High School.

He was drafted into the Army and was assigned to the 164th Infantry Regiment of the North Dakota National Guard, which was activated for World War II. He arrived in Bourgainville in the South Pacific. Later, on Leyte in the Philippines, he was wounded while on patrol, the bullet hitting his scalp but lodging in his left shoulder. By coincidence, his twin brother, Forest “Fat” Nearhood, was later wounded in the same shoulder.

Mr. Nearhood received the Purple Heart and, decades later, was a state commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in Ohio. He visited the World War II Memorial with his friend U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo).

He was a member of the Erie VFW post and the Conn-Weissenberger American Legion post and of Boulevard Church of Christ.

He and his wife, Madeline, married April 18, 1953. She died Jan. 6, 1993.

Surviving are his sons, Charles and Judd Nearhood; brother, Bruce Nearhood; sisters, Beverly Scott and Connie Hickerson; 11 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will from 3-9 p.m. today and from 9-10 a.m. Saturday in the Reeb Funeral Home, Sylvania, where funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The family suggests tributes to Food for Thought in Oregon or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.