The club logo was designed by Norm Wise and approved September 2013
Ed Svoboda, Club Historian (email@example.com)
Central Flyway Decoy Collectors and Carvers Club
A Brief Early History
By Brick Paulson
In the late 1960’s a group of folk art enthusiasts, wildfowl hunters, artists, both amateur and professional , biologists, and game managers came together to form a group interested in collecting duck and goose decoys and the further promotion of such through the carving of working decoys. The “champion” of the group was a Lincoln, Nebraska accountant, Robert Wohlers. Through the catalyst of Ralph Stuheit, an artisan whose specialty was silk screening signs and building displays, the small group met informally at Ralph’s place of business in the Havelock neighborhood of Lincoln. The group’s founding meeting was held in JANUARY, 1970 at Bob Wohler’s home.
Quoting from the cover sheet of the roster of entries from an early club sponsored contest “the main purpose of the club is to seek out old decoys, learn about carvers and keep this fine folk art alive by sponsoring a carver’s class and contest
Because it promoted through education that the decoy was an esthetic work of art, the club was designated a not-for-profit organization by the Internal Revenue Service in July, 1971.
Ralph Stutheit was already carving birds and invited people with artistic talents and others who might like carving decoys to visit his shop. Cliff Hollestelle, an
early acquaintance of Stuheit, spent time with Ralph honing his skills at the
shop. Bob Havel, who lived in Norfolk, Nebraska and a staff member of the
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, was carving decoys for competition and had won a few ribbons for his carving entries at decoy shows in the East. Subsequently, decoy carving classes were held at Stuheit’s shop.
Decoy collecting and carving originally started in the Eastern USA and then spread to the Midwest and West Coast. Bob Wohlers attended meetings of a new formed
group, the Midwest Decoy Collectors Association, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This
was in the late 1960’s and Bob reported to our CFDCC club of the MDCA’s activities.
The Greater Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport, Iowa was attracting the attention of wood carvers who specialized in duck and goose decoy carving by hosing the International Decoy Carving Contest. In addition, an outdoor sporting show held at Pt. Mouille, Michigan hear Detroit was attracting carvers with it
competitive show. Our CFDCC club members entered their carvings in both events
and several were bringing home awards.
As interest in the decoy carving hobby increased, the small group began meeting in member’s homes as well as at Stutheit’s shop. The annual dues were $5.00.
The CFDCC club wanted to have a competitive event to show the public its accomplishments, so, we initiated an affiliation with the Nebraska State Fair held in Lincoln. With area wide publicity, carvers from as far as New Jersey sent in entries that were judged and awarded ribbons. This first event sponsored by the club was in September of 1970 and was a hugh success. Plans were made for future events with a competitive show held at Lincoln’s Gateway Shopping Center the following year. Entrants were encouraged to put a selling price on their work for show attendees to purchase them.
The club was now off the ground and beginning to attract more people interested in folk art, vintage decoys, modern decoys and sporting memorabilia. However, the club was in short supply of money to finance its planned activities.
A Charter Member of the club was Lincoln physician, Dr. Everett Angle, who enjoyed the hobby of wood carving. He made songbirds, waterfowl and shorebirds with a distinct fold are look. He even carved on furniture that he made. Unfortunately, in his advanced years, he wasn’t able to carve but he was a strong supporter of the decoy club. He passed away in the mid 1970’s and his family donated his carvings to the club. To evenly distribute the gifts, the club held an auction that was well attended by the community and helped raise approximately $1,500. to solidify the financial condition of the club. Subsequently, the club organized and held more competitive shows attracting not only local and regional carvers, but talented carvers from other areas of the USA and Canada.
The shows also attracted decoy collectors from Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan and Ohio. Many brought decoys from the area where they lived and the opportunity for Nebraskans to purchase or trade them.
In September 1975, the CFDCC joined with the Nebraska Art Association to sponsor an exhibition called “The Bird Decoy: An American Art Form.” The show was held at the Sheldon Art Gallery on the University of Nebraska Lincoln Campus. Some 300 decoys were shown with lending for display from prestige’s collectors. A catalog of the exhibition was published by the University of Nebraska Press and written by a founding member and Ornithologist, Dr. Paul Johnsgard. The catalog is now out of print and is sought after by collectors.
The club continued to hold shows into the latter part of the 1970’s in Lincoln, but interest in having the competitive show format began to wane. The organization and production of a show was a lot of work and expensive. However, the membership continued to grow due to the influence of the members residing in Omaha. With the exception of a competitive contest held at Omaha’s Peter Kiewit Center on August 25, 1990, the club abandoned a competitive show for a display show held at the Regency Fashion Court in Omaha. There, the members displayed and sold their carvings and pieces from their collections. The initial shows attracted large audiences and many of the attendees were willing to purchase decoys from our talented carvers and pieces from the collector
OF THE CENTRAL FLYWAY
DECOY COLLECTORS AND CARVERS CLUB
Information Provided by: Brick Paulson and
Dr. Everet Angle
Bernard J. Ach Friend, NE
Fred Bentley Lincoln, NE
Emery Blue Lincoln, NE
Dick Callahan York, NE
Jack Campbell Lincoln, NE
Dr. Henry Cech Lincoln, NE
Gene Eaton Lincoln, NE
Don Forke Lincoln, NE
Scott Forke Lincoln, NE
Gil Griess Lincoln, NE
Bob Havel Norfolk, NE
Cliff Hollestelle Lincoln, NE
Emerson Hurich Lincoln, NE
Dr. Paul Johnsgard Lincoln, NE
Brick Paulson Lincoln, NE
Ralph Stutheit Lincoln, NE
Harold Whitmer Fremont, NE
Larry A. Witt Lincoln, NE
Bob Wohlers Lincoln, NE
Foster Woodruff Lincoln, NE