CATAWBA COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - It's good to see someone do well.
When I first met Eddie Hamrick of Catawba County more than 25 years ago, it was to do a story on him for Carolina Camera. We went out to the historic Murray's Mill where Eddie was working. You could say he was a "struggling artist" then.
Eddie is a woodwright…he makes objects out of wood, and he's very good at it. From bowls, to signs, to musical instruments, to puppets, to masks, to flowers, to fish, to birds, to desks, to…well, you name it, and Eddie can make it out of wood. He loves what he does.
But making a living at it is another story. However, if determination were gold, Eddie would be the richest man in the world. It's that determination that's brought Eddie to where he is today.
Just ask Eddie about his work today.
Here's what he said to me: "It's been a real blessing to take the talent God's given me...and I've done stuff for, now in my lifetime, seven presidents, four governors, the Pope, the Queen of England, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Marvin Hamlisch, people like John Elway, Bob Costas. Uh, I've done Broadway stuff, I've done movies..."
Determination and perseverance…and particularly, talent, have paid off for Eddie.
He can take a piece of wood and do things with it that no ordinary mortal can do. And over the years since I first met him, more and more people began to see what he could do.
Today, his talent is recognized around the world. And rightly so.
At the age of 62, he's finally making a real living from it. Eddie was telling me about a piece he's just been commissioned to do. He's being paid a quarter of a million dollars for it. Not bad for a fellow from Catawba County who never went to college.
But before you get to thinking that Eddie's in it for the money, let me remind you that he's been doing this for more than 40 years and he's just now at the point where he says he's "finally getting it right."
In fact, Eddie has done more work for charity than he has for profit. He's donated pieces to various organizations that have helped raise more than a million dollars. Eddie will tell you it's been a blessing from God to help out others and that his talent is God-given.
Former North Carolina Governor Jim Martin says Eddie represents North Carolina. He says Eddie is what we are…someone who works with his hands and builds things that are the best quality. Eddie says he represents the working man by doing things with his hands.
Eddie and I have kept up with one another over the years. I've seen him go through a few struggles, not only financially, but health-wise as well. But through it all, he's always maintained a positive attitude and he believes strongly in his work. I'm glad to see he's doing so well today. He deserves it.
Be sure to check out the recent story I did on Eddie. It's on the WBTV website. A retrospective on his work is now on display in a special exhibit at the Hickory Museum of Art. The exhibit runs through September 6. Admission is free.
I promise you, it's well worth a visit. Eddie's art is beyond beautiful…and you need to see it for yourself. You will truly be inspired!