A Tulsa oak tree damaged by lightning is reborn

Tuesday, February 15th 2005, 10:14 am
By: News On 6

Residents at Tulsa's University Village Retirement Center were saddened last year when a beautiful red oak tree was struck by lightning. But they were determined to give that damaged tree new life, so they commissioned chainsaw sculptor Clayton Coss to carve it into an angel. The finished sculpture was dedicated Tuesday.

The News on 6's Rick Wells says in 20 years of sculpting with a chainsaw Clayton Coss has created well over a thousand of these figures out of tree stumps. One of the latest is an angel at University Village.

Wanda Harris says the man has a unique gift. "Instead of like improvisation for music, he takes trees and makes something living out of them." Back in September we visited University Village, to look at the red oak tree that had been struck by lightning. Some of the residents believed the tree had taken a lightening strike that could have damaged the building, like a guardian angel might have.

So the idea was born, but what would it look like. Clayton Coss: "They pretty much just left it up to me." He's carved angels before, but the University Village angel would be different. "Here we're in a different setting. We wanted a protecting peaceful angel." More uplifting less threatening. So on four cold days in December, he created their guardian angel. At the dedication everyone seemed pleased.

University Village resident Edna Graham: "I'm not artistic and I just saw a tree stump. It was amazing as he brought this forward."

Wanda Harris believes there's a spiritual symbolism in this tree stump turned guardian angel. “There is new birth for any of us, regardless of how shattered our lives may be."