If you’re looking for Broadway local Raymond “Beck” Whitmore, chances are you’ll find him cross-stitching away in his den’s recliner. Since learning the craft from his daughter, it’s been one of the 93-year-old’s favorite pastimes.
“It’s very relaxing,” says Whitmore. “Not only that, but when you finish [a project,] you are pleased you created something.”
Whitmore says his daughter taught him the skill after he retired from his family’s business — A.W. Whitmore & Sons — at age 70.
“She knew I needed to do something to occupy myself,” he explained.
Though the World War II veteran insists he made plenty of mistakes while learning, these days he’s quite the expert. Estimating that he spends an average of 20 to 30 hours a week cross-stitching, Whitmore says he’s created at least 50 pieces over the years.
“It’s not really that difficult, it just takes time and concentration,” he remarked.
His wife, Margaret Whitmore, begs to differ.
“I can’t do it at all,” she said, laughing. “I’m not crafty.”
Among Beck’s preferred scenes to cross-stich: flowers, Hummel’s and historical sites. His all-time favorite piece, a rendition of Virginia’s Mabry Mill, took an entire year to complete.
Beck Whitmore uses his creations to decorate his home, and also gifts them to family and friends.
A few months ago, Helen Smith, president of the Plains District Memorial Museum, learned of his talent and says she was blown away.
“They are just like pieces of art; they are so exact you can hardly tell them from a painting,” she praised. “They’re phenomenal."
Smith asked Beck Whitmore if the Timberville museum could display his cross-stitching because she believes it sends a positive message to the community.
“It serves as a real example to all of us that age is not always a factor in what kind of good work we can do,” she pointed out.
Beck felt “very honored” by the request, and was happy to oblige.
“I enjoy doing it and I hope somebody else enjoys [observing them],” he said.
Unfortunately, Beck is currently taking a break from cross-stitching, as he suffered a stroke in June. However, he says he’s making a strong recovery, and hopes to return to his projects soon.
Beck Whitmore’s works will be on display at the museum until September. Museum hours are 1-4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday.
Contact Katie King at 574-6271 or firstname.lastname@example.org