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Hershel Carmen House passed away peacefully on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024 at the Ohio County Hospital in Hartford, Ky. surrounded by family and friends. He was born July 4, 1941 to the late Euda and Coweta House in the bustling river community of Woodbury, Ky. At an early age, it was found that Hershel was not content with the ways of the quickly modernizing world; rather, he had an affection for the old and primitive ways of which this great Commonwealth was built. He would spend his formative years hunting, fishing, and camping along the banks of the Green River in homemade canoes in rural Butler County, Kentucky. Hershel was preceded in death by his mother, father and sister Vivian. He is survived by one daughter, Jana Rose and her husband David; one granddaughter, Beth Rose; one sister, Vickie House; two brothers, Frank House and his wife Lally and Johnny House; several nieces, nephews and friends.
It was noticed at a very young age that Hershel was a very talented and skilled craftsman. His ability to work in many artistic mediums flourished and would be the stepping-stones, for what would later become his prolific career in the traditional arts. Hershel served his country honorably in the United States Marine Corps, where he was an ace shot on the rifle range and noted for topping his commanding officers. During his time in the military, he spent 16 months in Cuba on guard at Guantánamo Bay. There, he spent plenty of time drawing, scheming and plotting his life back home in Kentucky working with his hands.
After a short stent in Louisville, Kentucky, Hershel headed home to Morgantown, Kentucky where, in 1965 he settled for nothing less than fulfilling a lifelong dream of setting up a shop and building true Kentucky longrifles full-time. In 1968, Hershel was gifted a lifelong love when his daughter, Jana was born. He would go on in the years to follow building a reputation of a fine craftsman, Renaissance man, and painter whose works were commissioned for early TV Pioneers, governors, and heads of state alike. In 1989, he became a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities for his works on various historical projects, including the restoration of David Crockett’s personal rifle.
Through the 2000’s, he never slowed down his craft and neither did his list of request for the hand forged knives and guns. Life was nearly cut short when he was diagnosed with cancer. However, through his determination to carry on, he proudly beat cancer completely in 2009.
In his career, he taught thousands of anxious learners the craft; however, most of his students recall the very special bond they felt working beside him. He was always kind and patient. His art took him all over the country and allowed him to meet and work with people from all walks of life, and that he was proud of. His greatest legacy will always remain his willingness to share his artistic styles and processes now known as the “Woodbury School” with others.
The many who had the privilege of visiting his home and workshops could not help but be captivated by the world he had created to grow his craft. Many described it as walking back in time. Between reviving log cabins, restoring antique cars, building furniture, grinding cornmeal, hunting with his beloved dogs or going to the flea markets, not much grass could grow under Mr. House’s feet.
To quote him; “I’ve had the great satisfaction of living my life exactly the way I’ve always wanted to live.” He will be greatly missed by family, friends and followers the world over. Hershel really cherished the time he was able to spend with his daughter, Jana and his granddaughter, Beth on their many adventures.
Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 4:00pm at Smith Funeral Home with Bro. Raleigh Blancett officiating. Visitation will be held on Friday, Jan. 26 from 1:00pm until 8:00pm and Saturday, Jan. 27 from 8:00am until 4:00pm at Smith Funeral Home. Colonial period styles of dressing, as a tribute to Hershel, are encouraged by those who wish to do so. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the recently established Hershel House and the Woodbury School Foundation, Inc., which has been established to preserve his legacy and further his love of teaching others. You can make this donation at Smith Funeral Home, PO Box 280, Morgantown, Ky. 42261.
A spring service is planned for April 2024 where his ashes will be interred into the Green River.
Hershel House and the Woodbury School Foundation, Inc.
Morgantown KY 42261