Nearly 90, a Fergus Falls veteran continues pursuing his passion for woodworking well into retirement
FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — For many, retirement is all about kicking back, enjoying the sunsets and calling every day Saturday.
But just weeks away from turning 90, Cliff Ouren of Fergus Falls continues to be productive, creating intricate wooden works of art.
"I like working, period; I don't like laying around," said Ouren, who would often be out working in the shop by 4 a.m. using a scroll saw — and lots of patience — to create everything from birdhouses to working circus rides and grandfather clocks.
Ouren served in the military during the Korean War and when the farm boy returned home, he headed to Alaska to work in a salmon cannery.
Years later in retirement, he turned to woodworking, though it could hardly be considered the end of his career.
He now spends his time at the Fergus Falls Veterans Home turning out wood projects that have been a part of his life for decades. He sells the work to benefit his fellow veterans.
The birdhouses he makes and sells are nothing compared to his other works of art. One is a beautifully intricate, wooden carousel that can make its two-dimensional animal shapes rise up and down as it spins.
He also has created an equally intricate Ferris wheel.
"To get everything timed, there's so much mechanism in that," Ouren said.
Ouren also has made highly-detailed grandfather clocks. They are covered in scenes of nature and wildlife, all cut with a scroll saw. In all, he has sold 41 of them.
"It is not just patience. It takes a lot of time," Ouren said. "If you don't like what you are doing, forget it."
The items he makes are sold at the Veterans Home and he doesn't keep the profits. Ouren turns it all back to the recreation program at the home so he and fellow vets can go to baseball games and morning cafe breakfasts downtown.
"I give back every penny I take in," Ouren said. "If you could find a place better than they are here, I'd sure like to see it."