Andrew Peter Razmus, 84, crafted detailed, wooden rocking horses

September 09, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

The rocking horses Andrew Peter Razmus crafted looked like Shetland ponies. They had fur manes, leather saddles and bridles, detailed features and appeared ready to break into a trot.

Mr. Razmus, 84, who died Sunday of heart failure at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, made the wooden horses in the small back yard of his Canton rowhouse, his worktable and band saws among the tomatoes and green peppers he grew.

In the yard, he put countless hours into molding, carving and applying just the right stain to every wooden horse, making each toy as unique as the child who would own it.

"In the beginning, he did it just to give them to his grandchildren," said Nancy Stephens of Baltimore, a longtime friend. "He'd make them in two sizes, for bigger or smaller children."

A Canton resident for more than 60 years, Mr. Razmus never took woodworking lessons. He "tinkered" with woodworks for years and often made Christmas ornaments, relatives said.

An affable man who enjoyed telling stories of his youth, Mr. Razmus began making rocking horses as a hobby about 1975 while maintaining a full-time job. His pastime grew, and word of his skills spread. During the next two decades, he made more than 300 rocking horses for families throughout the country.

After he retired in 1980, he put all his energy into his hobby. He made his last rocking horse about a year and a half ago.

"It was something he liked to do," said his wife, the former Naomi West, whom he married in 1937. "He put a lot of special care and love into each of them."

He took about a month to make each rocking horse. He'd find just the right types of woods and didn't always rely on outlines of previous horses for his newest works.

"So much of his work was not using any exact measurements," said his granddaughter Kathleen Razmus of Baltimore. "He couldn't tell someone how he did it because it wasn't always exact."

A native of Lily, Pa., Mr. Razmus moved to Baltimore in 1931 to work as a cook at the former Baltimore City Hospital. In 1939, he left to become a pie deliveryman for the old Amhrein Bakery. He later worked as a maintenance mechanic at the former Civic Center until he retired in 1980.

He once was a pilot and remained an avid sports fan who owned season tickets for the old Baltimore Colts from their first game in 1947 until 1980.

Neighbors recall hearing his lathe and saws in the back yard as somewhat of a tradition.

"It was always comforting to hear him out there. You knew he was happy and things were OK in the neighborhood. It had a calming over everything," said Robert Waddell, who lived in the community for many years.

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Thomas Skarda Funeral Home, 2829 Hudson St.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, J. Andrew Razmus of Ellicott and Dennis Razmus of Flower Mound, Texas; a daughter, Elizabeth Abbey of Sebring, Fla.; a sister, Josephine Urban of Baltimore; eight grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 9/09/98

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