Skill a sight to behold

Blind Virginian’s workmanship benefits MCC

Dan Bowman displays his current project, a working model of a water-powered grist mill. — Jim Bishop Dan Bowman displays his current project, a working model of a water-powered grist mill. — Jim Bishop

Dan Bowman, 79, of Harrisonburg, Va., may be blind but is very much in touch with the world around him.

Having completely lost his sight at age 12, Bowman has not let that physical disability hamper an aggressive pursuit of personal and career endeavors — vocational rehabilitation counselor, piano-tuning technician for 36 years, accomplished pianist and organist and skilled wood craftsman and, above all, devoted husband to Ferne and father of three adult daughters and their families.

Bowman’s commitment to using his God-given talents to help others extends to contributing the works of his hands to the 54th annual Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale. This year’s event was held Oct. 1-3 at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds, with many activities taking on a different form due to COVID-19.

The woodworking pieces Bowman has fashioned and donated to the relief sale auction over 11 years have invariably drawn high bids. A wooden marble roller he donated his first year brought $3,700.

He has made and donated five marble rollers, a set of wooden tops, a cherry study desk, a bedside stand made of ash wood, a Victorian-style wash stand, a utility/clothing rack and an assortment of wooden footstools — and kept all of his fingers intact.

In all, his work has raised more than $13,000 for the relief sale.

From its inception in 1967 to the present, all sale funds raised go to Mennonite Central Committee.

“MCC has long been my favorite charity,” Bowman said. “I have a brother and several friends who have served with MCC; I thrill at their stories. MCC is a solid, hands-on expression of the kingdom of Jesus in the world. The relief sale is a tangible expression of our Anabaptist-Mennonite heritage.”

Sale organizers worked around obstacles brought on by the pandemic. The main event — an auction of quilts, artwork and handcrafted items — took place online Oct. 3. Food items were on sale on a pickup basis. Baked goods were on sale at the fairgrounds at specified times. Preliminary proceeds were $266,500, with the “My Coins Count” other donations still being tab­ulated Oct. 5. Organizers hoped to come close to meeting last year’s preliminary total of $380,000.

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