Delano’s Leo Wertish is a creative man

February 4, 2008

By Jen Bakken
Staff Writer

A display case at Delano Commons is currently housing pieces of art, handmade by Leo Wertish.

From plates and bowls to animals and clocks, Wertish’s creations amaze fellow residents.

While they peak through the glass of the display case, they can’t help but wonder – how did he do that?

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Lyle Thingvold, a friend of Wertish’s who also lives at the Delano Commons.

A visit to the apartment Leo shares with his wife, Audrey, brings to view many more items he has made.

In the center of their living room is a unique coffee table with a tile top, along with a candle holder and round cribbage board. The coffee table was made from scratch, without a kit or instructions.

“Each piece was measured and planned,” Wertish said.

To the right of the coffee table is a very interesting clock with 108 wooden pieces. The clock doesn’t require batteries or electricity to work. It was one of the few times Leo used instructions, and it took him about a month to complete.

Thingvold admits he has never seen anything quite like this clock.

“It’s a talent, he really put some time on that,” said Audrey Wertish. “I sew, I cook, I do other things, but I don’t carve. I’ve tried, but I have no talent for carving. He does, though.”

For many years, Leo lived in Delano and was the owner of Leo’s Upholstery. His garage served as his shop, and his business thrived for 30 years.

He started carving about 20 years ago, on his own, without any classes or instruction.

“When I was in my home,” Leo remembered, “I made everything in my living room, including the furniture, except for the TV.”

Leo and Audrey were married eight years ago this Valentine’s Day in Texas.

During this time, the couple had a home in Texas, and spent winters there. Because of Audrey’s allergies, they no longer spend the cold months in Texas.

After two years of living in Howard Lake, the couple now calls Delano home. They are volunteers at the Delano Senior Center, and enjoy nightly card games.

“During retirement, you may not be working,” said Audrey. “You are still busy all the time, but you are having a good time.”

When he is not using cedar, basswood, oak, or mahogany from Indonesia, Leo is creating other items.

He made a cannon that has won first place twice at miniature cannon shoots at the Waverly Gun Club.

“The more powder you put in,” Leo laughs, “the further it will shoot.”

Currently, Leo isn’t working on any projects, but with his talent, its only a matter of time before he is creating another masterpiece.

Do you know more about this subject, or have a comment? E-mail delano@hjpub.com