Friday, February 27, 2009
The Up Side of a Stroke
It wouldn't be much of a boat show without a boat builder and at the Southwest Virginia Boat Show at the Roanoke Civic Center tonight that distinction was Bill Gee's. Bill's an aging old salt with one good arm, obvious stroke residue and some other physical distortions, but an iron will that would speak well to his wooden ships.
Bill, a Navy veteran of two unpopular wars--Korea and Vietnam where he didn't suffer physically, but later saw the emotional damage--has picked up quite a skill and quite a marketing device in his dotage. He not only builds these nice sailing ships at his home in Roanoke, but he builds them in team colors.
No, really. Team colors.
West Virginia Mountaineers: blue and yellow. University of Viriginia: blue and orange. Virginia Tech: orange and maroon. Pittsburgh Steelers: black and gold. Roanoke College, Army, Navy, University of Tennessee, Liberty University and on and on. He'll make one for you custom, even in the ridiculous orange and green of the University of Miami if you so choose.
Bill's pretty proud of himself for doing this one-handed. "When I had the stroke," he says, "doctors told me I'd never walk again, never work again, never do this, never do that. I was building these boats in no time. I don't think I'd have ever gotten around to it without the stroke."