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Published: Tuesday, 8/31/2010

Sculpture for friend restores injured wood artist to health

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TEMPERANCE - Steve Gore was lucky to survive a beating in 2009.

The attack inflicted on him near Woodville, Ohio, caused his kidneys and liver to nearly shut down.

His left arm was shattered and his skull was fractured from getting struck more than a dozen times by a baseball bat and tire iron. His left leg had more than 30 blood clots.

Doctors gave him a 3 percent chance of survival. His family was told to prepare for the worst.

"The term they used was that my family should make funeral arrangements," he said.

But Mr. Gore, 44, who now lives in Toledo, beat the odds and proved them wrong.

"God stepped in and put me in his hands," he said.

But the brutal attack left him mentally and emotionally damaged.

He said he sank into a deep depression and lost the desire to create the beautifully polished natural wood furniture and animal sculptures for which he had become known. His zest for his artwork was gone.

"I wasn't a very pleasant person to be around. I was miserable to my friends," he admitted. "I couldn't work. I shut everyone out of my life."

He underwent therapy with counselors and psychologists.

But, he said, the long sessions couldn't erase the anger and hate he felt for the person who was responsible for the beating.

However, the bitter feelings that blocked his creativity were wiped away several weeks ago when he stepped into the front yard of Mike Entry's Temperance home to make good on a contract he signed nearly two years ago.

With chain saws and other tools, he carved out an eagle near the driveway.

He then took the remaining 15 feet of a cottonwood stump to make one of the most elaborate sculptures of his career.

Nearly completed, it portrays a mother bear swiping a rainbow trout being carried away in the talons of an eagle.

"It was over. No more anger. No more frustration," Mr. Gore said. "God stepped into my life to put all the people in the right place."

Mr. Entry became familiar with Mr. Gore's work when he had a studio and shop on Crabb Road in Bedford Township.

"By watching him carve a few times. I got to know him," he said.

After having the 250-foot cottonwood tree removed, Mr. Entry hired Mr. Gore to carve the stump.

The deal was that Mr. Gore would transform it into a bear, plus her cub off to the side yard.

It took some cajoling, but Mr. Entry said he got his friend to live up to his end of the deal.

In fact, Mr. Entry sought out other chain-saw carvers to finish the job.

"I kind of forced him to finish the job. It took almost two years," he said.

"I contacted a couple carvers, but I wanted to give him the first shot at it. I told Steve that if you are not here by the third week of August, I contact somebody else to do it."

Mr. Entry said he had no doubts that Mr. Gore could get it done.

"Three days later he showed up at my house. Once he did the eagle, we knew he was back to his old self," he said.

"I am glad I waited. He has a great artistic ability. Anybody who looks at that stump and sees him go at it can tell you that."

At the time of the assault, Mr. Gore was living near Woodville.

He was jumped April, 3, 2009 in the driveway of friend's Sandusky County home by Mikell Cronin and others.

Cronin, 23, who was convicted of felonious assault and attempted murder and sentenced to 16 years in prison, attacked Mr. Gore because he was going to testify against him in a misdemeanor case.

Mr. Gore said that after the beating, Cronin and others took him to his home and left him to die.

He said they disabled his truck and took his belongings from the home.

Fifteen hours later, a friend found him in his home and called for EMTs.

One of the worst parts of the ordeal, Mr. Gore said, was that after the assault, his 8-year-old son, Cole, no longer looked up to him as a hero.

"When we made eye contact, I could tell that I was no longer Superman to him," he said.

However, he said his accomplishment in Mr. Entry's front yard has restored him into a hero in his son's eyes.

"I am the luckiest man in the world right now. I am living life right," he said.



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