Bob Bolle
Award Winning Carver, Colleague, & Friend
 by Laurie J.
McNeil

Spinning BottleIf you you were a friend of Bob Bolle's you most likely have spent a little time sipping Bailey's Irish Crème with him in his hotel room at the numerous carving shows he would attend. You probably also had the opportunity to hear the stories about Bob's hunting and fishing trips. Something he loved dearly!

Most people who didn't know him would think he's a RUFF, GRUFF, & TOUGH kinda guy. But those who really knew him knew better. Bob would give you the shirt off of his back if you needed it.

Bob supported the IWCA since its inception in 1988, serving on the IWCA Board of Directors as the North American Show Representative, and helping to standardize the rules for carvers and shows alike, during the early years until present time. He always had something to contribute in the name of carving and the shows.

This remarkable man donated one or more of his carvings to EVERY show he attended, and sent donations to shows he could not attend. Whether he was there or not his working decoy carvings would dominate the tanks and were tough to beat!

He had his own very unique style of combing texture and painting his decoys. WOW! Could he paint! He could paint a bird in no time flat. This was proven at the MANY decoy painting contests he entered in support of the sponsoring shows.

Most of the time Bob would win the painting contests, painting a decoy in 2 -3 hours, and have it look like he'd spent days! This, while also helping others who were in competition with him, who needed reference or paint, or brushes. Painting in a painting contest with Bob was ALWAYS COLORFUL!

Bob also had many students who benefited from his classes and went on to make names for themselves in competition. He also would hold free seminars at many of the shows, demonstrating his techniques to those who wanted to learn.

Working very closely with the North American Wildfowl Carving Championships held each year in September in Livonia, Michigan, he was the one you saw first, while you were entering your birds, taking IWCA Membership dues and managing the IWCA paperwork and duties.

But it didn't stop there... Once registration was closed he was ready to handout the birds for the painting contests he had put together, as well as assist in any area needed to run the show.

Bob was also a joy to judge with. He knew his birds, and in my experience judging with Bob, was always FAIR and UNBIASED. He had his opinion and you definitely knew what it was, but it was an opinion based on facts.

It is times like these when we look back and wish that we lived closer to our friends in the carving world. Months go by in between shows, when we don't see our friends. For me, finding Bob Bolle at the show was a priority! He was a great friend and supported me in times when I really needed it.

I will miss sitting next to Bob trying to BETTER his paint job, with my own, as well as the jokes, lively banter, and laughter that Bob would bring to any event.

I am sad to think he is not going to be there the next time I attend a show, but there's one thing I know for sure.....

Bob is sitting up there, looking down on all of us and laughing, with a Bailey's in one hand and smoke in the other, looking for the next joke to tell the other carvers up there.....

February 19, 2002 - Laurie J. McNeil

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