Fallen Officer Plaque

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Project by wiskeyweasel posted 05-05-2014 02:55 AM 2309 views 4 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My contract at JSC recently had one of our Locksmiths, James William Anderson pass away, and the chief and Officer Anderson’s supervisor asked if I would make a plaque to present to his family. I graciously accepted the offer and set off on this project.

First, a little back story about Officer Anderson. He was born February 11, 1983 in Huntsville, Alabama. His family moved here to the Clear Lake area 18 years ago, and after graduating from college at Seattle University with a degree in criminal justice, he came to work for the security and support contract at the Johnson Space Center, where he worked for 7 years until his passing on April 29th, 2014. He had an infectious personality and knew no strangers. Avid sportsman, outdoors man, and office comedian. He truly was a one of a kind and left us far too early.

After his passing, our team decided that his badge number would be retired, never to be worn again. As he was one of a kind, so is his badge. After some discussion with the chief and his supervisor, we decided on a wooden plague with his badge inlay-ed into the face. With that direction, I set off to complete it. And with only one day to do so, I was sweating it. Not only because of the time crunch, but also because I’ve never made something with this much meaning and purpose, and I’ve never tried to inlay anything beyond a simple straight strip of wood.

This plaque started as a rather large piece of 5/4 walnut. I started by roughing out the shape and then went on to inlay the badge. What made this particularly difficult is the shape of the badge. Not only are it’s edges undulating, it has roll to it, so getting it to sit flat was a chore. But, it turned out great. It was finished off with a coat of shellac, then 4 coats of satin poly.

This was easily the most challenging piece I’ve ever done. Not because of the inlay or any typical aspect of woodworking though. It was the realization of what I was making this for. The shear significance of what this represented drove me to tears continuously throughout the build, but I couldn’t be prouder to have been asked to make this.

As always, thanks for the comments, but I have one last thing to add.

His family, more than anything, wanted everyone to carry on his legacy. And with that, they offered some direction:

1. Count your blessings and understand that all you have been given comes from God.
2. Remember his smile and pass it on.
3. Always express you love.
4. help your friends and neighbors.
5. Eat healthy.
6. Speak kind and gentle words.
7. Be a peacekeeper and a mediator.
8. Stay active each and every day.
9. Have a positive attitude and outlook on life.
10. Tackle each task given with gusto and make the best of those that may seem insignificant.
11. Be creative.
12. You do not need a lot of stuff to be happy.

-- They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

4 comments so far

View CFrye's profile


11081 posts in 2723 days

#1 posted 05-05-2014 08:13 AM

Very nicely done, WW. Often times when the relatively young die, the family is bitter. From their wishes, it is easy to see they are trusting God and His plan in their lives. Thank you for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View thelt's profile


671 posts in 4262 days

#2 posted 05-05-2014 09:57 AM

A very nice tribute. I have often wondered how to do exactly what you did. I wore the same style badge for nearly 25 years and want to mount mine in a similar manner. Maybe we can get together (in email and you can give me some pointers of the do’s and don’t s). A very nice tribute.

-- When asked what I did to make life worthwhile in my lifetime....I can respond with a great deal of pride and satisfaction, "I served a career in the United States Navy."

View JohnnyStrawberry's profile


246 posts in 3202 days

#3 posted 05-05-2014 09:59 AM

Great great job on this. I probably couldn’t make such an emotional piece. I hope I won’t need doing that for a long time…
Thank you for sharing it.

-- What are those few hours of mine compared to those decades Mother Nature has put in it!

View bowtie's profile


990 posts in 3229 days

#4 posted 05-05-2014 10:24 AM

Beautiful Plaque, it’s sad but satisfying to make a memorial for someone who lived so fully.

-- bowtie,.....jus passin thru....

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