Valley man picks up wood carving to stay sober

PHOENIX - Cut by cut, Dave Rushlo is carving out something special.

"People always walk up to me and say, ‘Oh, that looks like my uncle. Do you know him?’" said Dave.

He may not know them, but each carving has its own story to tell. Each face with its own expression, just like Dave, who turned to wood carving to carve out something different in his life.

It was years ago when his wife confronted him about his drinking.

"One day she greeted me at the front door as I came home and she said, ‘Look — I'm leaving. You've got three kids that you're going to pay for — for the rest of your life or until they get through school or else you sober up."

That's when Dave picked up wood carving. He spends up to six hours a day, six days a week carving wood at his home at Friendship Village Tempe.

His wife is no longer with us so now Dave uses carving to keep his mind busy. 

"It's a pleasure," said Dave. "It's something that has saved my sanity over the years."

If Dave makes a mistake on his carving, he just alters the plan -- just like he did in life -- and carves out something different.

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