Former lawman finds fulfillment in woodworking
Vernon Laffere needed something to keep busy after he retired from the Kansas Highway Patrol when he was 61 years old. So he got creative and began making presents out of wood.
"I needed something to do, so I started building things to give to the kids," the 67-year-old Basehor man said. "After awhile, though, they started telling me they just didn't have room for everything."
So Laffere started going to craft shows to display his work.
"From there, it kind of took off," he said.
Whether it's a cradle or a CD caddy, Laffere can fashion it out of oak. He spends countless hours in the basement workshop of his home.
"I cannot think of anything that I would rather do," Laffere said.
Laffere is open to challenges and always is eager to try something new.
"I like to try something new every now and then," Laffere said.
Some people come to him when they cannot find what they want in a store. He tries his best to accommodate them.
"I like the challenge of doing something that I haven't done before," Laffere said.
He takes a great deal of pride in his work, which includes roll-top desks, crochet cradles, hampers, trunks, magazine racks and knickknack shelves.
"I want something that looks nice," Laffere said. "I try not to let anything go out of my shop unless it is something that I would put in my own house."
With his overflow, Laffere puts items on display at Bichelmeyer Brothers in Basehor and at Outback Video Rentals in Tonganoxie.
For Laffere, his hobby and watching his grandchildren participate in sporting events take the place of television.
"Being retired, I can work when I want to," Laffere said. "When I have leisure time, I like to spend my time in the shop. I have fun with it. I am not a TV person."
He'd much rather be in his workshop or at a game that a grandchild is playing in. After Christmas, the Lafferes traveled to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., to see their oldest grandson, Greg, play offensive left tackle in Miami's defeat of Georgia Tech.
Usually, though, the Lafferes stay in Kansas when attending sporting events. With nine grandchildren, they're busy.
"I am having a ball," Laffere said. "And, thankfully, the kids are kind enough to let us be a part of it."
Sometimes the grandchildren have games going on simultaneously. So, Laffere and his wife, Darlene, split up. Then, they come home and relate game stories to each other.
It actually was the couple's grandchildren that prompted the Lafferes to move to Basehor in 1994 from Concordia. The couple would travel about 400 miles roundtrip just to watch their grandchildren play in sporting events. Now, they live within five minutes of their sons and are 200 miles closer to their daughter.
"I was wanting to retire," Laffere said. "So we started looking around the area."