Meet Your Neighbor: Bob Boxley

By: MENG REN
neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com

Bob Boxley’s house on north William Street is white, clean and ordinary. But when door the opens, his collection of wood sculptures fill the view.

“You came to a museum,” he said.

There are hundreds of wood sculptures in the house, most made from Minnesota or Michigan basswood tree. Others are made from wild walnut, Boxley said.

Boxley’s father is a carver, and his younger brother lives in Alaska, where many of Boxley’s inspirations come from.

He carves human figures, animals, and small house models. It can take anywhere from a day to a week to finish a sculpture, he said. He carves for fun with no pattern.

One of his favorite is a sculpture of Robert E. Lee, the Civil War general, a man Boxley regards as a hero.

Boxley likes to personalize his sculptures and give them fantasy lives.

Hanging on his wall is a sculpture of an “elf house,” which looks like two broken tree trunks.

“Elf is the spirit in the tree,” Boxley said. “There was one in the house, but it goes out to do social works.”

Compared to the farming community in western Kansas where he grew up, he thinks Columbia is a busy town.

Boxley worked at an insurance company before moving came to the main office in Columbia at 1965. He retired 15 years ago, and started carving after retirement.

He  said he has witnessed many changes in Columbia. For example, he is unhappy with the bike boulevard at the intersection of Ripley and Windsor Streets where people ignore stop signs.

It’s a relief in the spring when most students go back home, he said.

When he first moved to William Street, Boxley says he was surrounded by widows.

He is now lives with his wooden friends, and he cherishes the memory of the past.

“Now, we are the old people in the block,” he said.

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