A WORK IN PROGRESS, FOREVER YOUNG – SCULPTING A ‘DONOR FOR LIFE’ JOURNEY WITH LUKE STIENECKER

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Luke Stienecker with his master work – a motorcycle made from scrap metal.

New Bremen blood donor Luke Stienecker is always on the move, always looking for what’s around the next bend in the road.  He made his milestone 225th lifetime donation Friday, Sept. 6 at the downtown Dayton CBC and will celebrate his 76th birthday on Sept. 11.  As far as Luke is concerned, staying busy is what keeps him young.  Ironically, if he wins the Harley-Davidson Road King Classic motorcycle in the King of the Road Summer Blood Drive drawing, it will be the only motorcycle he owns that will actually run.  Just like Luke, his motorcycle is not what it seems, and it remains a work in progress.

“I had two friends who were hemophiliacs,” said Luke, describing his journey and philosophy as a blood donor.  “They have passed away, but I started giving to help them. It’s like eating peanuts! You get started and you just can’t quit.  I don’t have any health problems, it’s easy to do, and someone else needs it. You know what they say, ‘It’s better to give…’”

Luke lets the understanding of his unfinished sentence sink in, and finishes with a wry smile. He and his wife Daisy will travel to their vacation home in Florida when winter comes, and like the snowbirds they’ve become, will continue to look for adventures.  They are very youthful.  “You want to know the secret?” Luke asks.  “Don’t hang around old people!  Don’t get used to spending time with people who don’t want to do anything!”

Luke is retired after 24 years with Crown Equipment Corporation in New Bremen, an employer he still admires. He worked in maintenance, where the skills he developed as a welder have blossomed into one of the joys of his retirement. “I make art work out of rusty metal,” he said. “Any old scrap metal.”

He thumbs through photos stored in his smartphone to show off his many works.  A prize sculpture is what appears to be a Harley-Davidson “hog” in all its glory with a skeleton rider onboard wearing a German soldier’s helmet.   “I made those ribs out of potato forks,” he said.

He explains how different engine parts came together to appear like a Harley engine. The old shotgun he incorporated into the frame, how he found the distinctive Nazi helmet.  The beauty of this motionless motorcycle is that it is still a work in progress.  “I’m never finished with it,” Luke said. “I’m always looking for one more piece of scrap metal for it.” Consider him a Luke Skywalker with a blow torch instead of a Light Saber.

A friend wants the motorcycle to advertise his business, but Luke won’t let it go.  He has made other works out of scrap metals (photos arrive from his phone – exotic birds, a praying mantis – with messages like “Hope u get this.” and “More to come.”).  There is certainly more to come from Luke Stienecker because that’s his character. He’s an artist for life, his own work in progress, and most of all a Donor for Life.  His words to live by, “It’s better to give…” 

 

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