By Troy Treasure
The first thing you need to realize about Trace Windsor, if you don’t know already, is his desire to give to others.
Windsor is patriotic, too.
“I love the American flag and I love what it stands for,” he said.
Windsor, currently a special education aide for the Paris R-II School District, decided not so long ago to create special projects out of wood, many American-themed. Much of his work ends up as gifts or charitable donations.
“It was something I would do to stress-relieve from school and work,” Windsor said. “I see it as a hobby that others enjoy and I can provide them a piece for their happiness.”
As a student at Shelby County R-IV, Windsor admitted to having little interest in industrial arts. But an appreciation for active-duty military and veterans sparked a concept … a flag, colored to an individual’s request.
It was difficult, at first. While home on weekends from the University of Missouri, Windsor suffered from what would be an author’s version of writer’s block.
“I would come out (to the shop) and just stare at this piece of wood,” he said.
Once Windsor got going, there were starts and stops but his first finished gift was satisfying to both its creator and recipient.
Harlan Million of Shelbyville is happy with the flag he received. He is a future brother-in-law of the engaged Windsor. Million served in the United States Army’s 173rd Airborne Infantry and 10th Mountain Division, including service in Afghanistan.
“It’s a symbol of hard work and sacrifice, not by just me, but from all my fellow brothers and sisters who have fought and continue to do so every day,” Harlan said. “This flag is a piece that I will always cherish, thanks to Trace.”
Harlan’s wife, Arielle, recalled a conversation with Windsor.
“When Trace approached me about this idea for Harlan, I was so excited. I am and always will be so proud of Harlan and all he’s done. And for someone to want to honor him in this way was such a gift,” she said.
“Trace truly has a talent and such a kind heart. I can speak for both Harlan and I when I say we are both so blessed to have Trace a part of our family,” Arielle added.
Eventually, Windsor became proficient with tools of the trade: for example, circular saws for straight edges, routers for carving and jigsaws for shaping.
“I want people to come to me and tell me exactly what they want,” he said.
Windsor was recently approached by incoming Monroe City School District Superintendent Tony DeGrave.
An auction was being planned to benefit the late Jamar White’s family. White, a longtime Panthers’ coach, died in an October 19, 2019 automobile accident. DeGrave asked Windsor if he would build an item and donate it to the auction. Windsor and White had known each other from track-and-field meets.
The auction was subsequently postponed until a later date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That has given Windsor more time to be creative. He has designed a table top with a favorite saying of White’s: “FAM,” an abbreviation for family, carved into the top.
Windsor didn’t stop there. The “F” is painted in Monroe City gold. The “M” is Palmyra orange, Palmyra being where White resided. The middle letter “A” is black, a color the two schools share in common.
For his current school, Windsor has shaped “Coyotes” in the colors of blue, white and black.
Windsor’s enthusiasm is obvious. On a recent Saturday morning, he described to a reporter the ins-and-outs of such things as liquid glass and camouflaged-colored stripes.
“Liquid glass is really finicky. I would compare it to syrup,” Windsor said. “Liquid glass must set for at least 24 hours.”
Not so long ago, Windsor was a three-time All-State football player for South Shelby. Turns out, Windsor was Godzilla-like only on the field.
He’s really a teddy bear.