Woodcutter ‘wouldn’t give up’ despite paralysis from accident

       Going into this year's Holly Berry House Folk Art Festival, founder/organizer Kathy Read shared a story told to her by one of her artisans, Pat Darcy of Arcadia, Okla., who has been renting space at the event for 20 of its 33 years.

Jim Folsom, who overcame paralysis to return to woodworking, is shown cutting a piece for Folk Art Festival artisan Pat Darcy.
Courtesy of Pat Darcy

       Darcy designs hand-cut Nativity scene displays. About 10 years ago, she was looking for a new woodcutter for her small patterns. The person she found is Jim Folsom. Now 67, he had been hit by a drunk driver at age 35, left paralyzed and told he had just five years to live.
       At that time, “unable to even stand before his saws, he sold all of his tools,” Kathy writes. “Three years later his father-in-law gave Jim a new saw and tricked him into cutting something, re-igniting his lifelong love of woodworking. An excited Jim replaced his power tools, lowered them to a level he could master from a wheel chair and, as they say….the rest is history.”
       In his years with Darcy, he has cut and assembled over 20,000 wooden nativity pieces, developing along the way a method that combines machine and hand cutting. “Is Jim just determined? Stubborn? Who knows? But he won't give up,” Kathy writes. “His advice for others who are confronted with these challenges is 'just keep going!' When you have an 'off day' or a “why-me day,' just ask yourself, 'Why not me?'… and just keep going!”

Westside Pioneer/press release