Back home in Missouri, “I went online and found a chain saw carving school out in Snoqualmie, Washington.” $2,600 later and after diligent practice, Kellogg began a wood carving career for homeowners and businesses around the Lake.

65-year-old US Army veteran Lance Kellogg of Camdenton can claim more than a half dozen chapters in his life.

Born and raised mostly in Sioux City, Iowa, and neighboring Nebraska, Kellogg served 20 years in the Army as tank turret operator in Vietnam and later, drill instructor and military policeman. Kellogg also served three tours in Korea and completed his service as an Army recruiter in the Western United States.

“I never thought I’d come back to Missouri to carve trees,” Kellogg recalled.

“Wife and I were vacationing in Minnesota when we happened by a wood carving business in Brainerd. They had a big eagle for sale for a thousand bucks. A bear for five thousand.”

I thought that was a lot of money and turned to my wife and said; “I can do that.”

Back home in Missouri, “I went online and found a chain saw carving school out in Snoqualmie, Washington.” $2,600 later and after diligent practice, Kellogg began a wood carving career for homeowners and businesses around the lake.

It was an unexpected blossoming of artistic talent.

“I never carved anything in the Army.”

His first big commission was a magnificent eagle now standing watch over the Camden County Courthouse. One hundred carvings later, Kellogg was commissioned to do a “totem pole” out of a declining white oak tree at private home on the shore of the Lake of the Ozarks.

The tree was trimmed to 15 feet, leaving room for a cast of characters from Kellogg’s imagination. The pole features a thunderbird at the top, followed by a bear, turtle, owl, raccoon and a bass from the lake. Early Americans believed the pole animals represented lifelong guides.

The Thunderbird represented thunder and lightning or creation and destruction. The bear meant strength and courage. Turtle represented wisdom and life’s transitions and the raccoon brought curiosity and ingenuity. The fish represented independence, often swimming upstream.

“I have a pair of parrots—four or five feet tall, scheduled in a week. Then a pair of ‘tree spirits,’ ghosts, more or less, for a customer.”

“The totem pole might be my last big endeavor. It took two weeks to do. And then there’s my arthritis. It’s a lot of hard physical work.”

“But, I might do another one. Word gets around.”

In addition to woodcarving, Kellogg was elected Junior Vice Commander of the Missouri Veterans of Foreign Wars. VFW duties “keep me moving.”

Lance says he can’t kick his decades-long Army connection but his art and carving career now provide new meaning in his life and new beauty at a lakefront home.