CREATED Sep. 9, 2013
MILWAUKEE - An impressive display of history is on display at the Milwaukee County War Memorial Museum. There you'll find hand-sculpted treasures from the 1700's to today.
That's because a collection of wooden soldiers was donated by Dr Richard Rech. The 85-year-old retired dentist and graduate of Marquette Dental School has mastered the art of chiseling replicas. As a young boy he learned that staying busy meant fewer chores.
He laughs, "My mother made me do it. She kept me busy otherwise I was digging dandelions or dusting the furniture!"
The result? An ability to create painstaking wooden soldiers. Each one takes fifty hours to complete. Dr. Rech explains, "They're all very accurate to size and scale. If it's a metal part, its metal, if its a wood part its wood."
Enclosed in glass cases you'll find military fighters from the Civil War, World War II, and the Iraq War. The miniature warriors don true-to-life uniforms. Dr. Rech admits, "I like being busy. I was always busy with the practice, politics, athletics, President of the Dental Society."
His collection includes a replica of his late wife, a former nurse, and even one of himself as a saxophonist in the Army. Rech loves seeing people's reactions. He exclaims, "It's fun to have people look and hopefully admire them and appreciate all the work that goes into them."
So what motivated him to donate his collection? He admits, I had cancer. I was sick and I still have no energy. One of these days I'm going to be gone. So what do you do with them?"
Rech's artistic abilities even won a WTMJ contest when Bill Carlsen was weatherman. He won first place for an eagle made out of Butternut coffee cans. Part of his motivation Rech laughingly admits, "I love showing off!" And that's a bonus for people in the Milwaukee area. Dr. Richard Rech has carved out symbols of history to be cherished for years to come.