BY LIZ VERLEY, Staff Writer
“I do not understand how anyone can be happy unless they are living in Sauk Centre. It is a beautiful town to live in,” said Deacon Lawrence Kaas.
Having been born, raised, a graduate of Sauk Centre High School and a business man in town for 48 years, Kaas must know what he is talking about.
Following graduation, Kaas did leave the area for a few years. In 1955, he married Agnes Schluender. After living in Alexandria for a few years, the Deacon and his wife settled in their home on Main Street, where they raised seven children. Agnes passed away in 2004.
Kaas said, “We purchased our home on the day that President Kennedy was shot. We added on the present shop, and I have been here ever since.”
Kaas’ first business was selling and repairing business machines. He said, “When the electronics era struck, we went broke. For a while after that we did upholstery and canvas work. Eventually, I resuscitated my old tool box and went to repairing and building clocks and carving wildlife pictures, figures, religious statues, etc.”
Kaas made his first clock approximately 30 years ago. He has repaired clocks from various regions of the country and has had his carvings sent all over the country.
His interest in clocks began when his mother sent him with her clock that had quit working, to a local repair shop. Kaas said, “I took the clock to the repair shop, but the owner was unable to repair it. He encouraged me to attempt to fix it. I took it home and had it running by the weekend.”
To fine-tune his knowledge on clock building and repairs, Kaas joined numerous organizations. He has taught classes on the art of building and repairing clocks.
“Basically, though, I am self taught,” he said.
Kaas makes all of his own tools. He said, “To make the tools you have to be able to work with hardened and tempered steel.”
He credits his high school shop teacher, Howard McDerrmot, with much of his success. Kaas said, “He would give me a pass at the beginning of the school year, and I would spend all my spare time in the shop. If it was not for the shop, I probably would not have stayed in school.”
One day a woman came into the Kaas’ business and asked why he did not repair violins. He gave the idea some thought.
“About a year ago I began to build and repair violins. I have built five in the last year. I get my kits from Europe, and they are top grade,” Kaas said.
Carving has also been a passion of Kaas’ since high school. In his shop, visitors are able to view his carved grandfather clocks, pictures and, in the corner of his workshop, a five-foot statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
He has carvings of Saint Faustina and Divine Mercy at St. Paul’s Catholic Church and a statue of Saint Isadore at Our Lady of Angels.
Kaas said, “I will continue to repair clocks, but I don’t know if my hands will allow me to do more carving. There are not many of us out there that still can repair clocks. It is a dying art.”
Kaas’ shop is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is located on Main Street in Sauk Centre.
Early mornings and Mondays are devoted to his work as a Deacon at Our Lady of Angels, the church where he was baptized and has been a lifetime member.
He was ordained a Deacon 25 years ago and has taught religion classes at Holy Family School for almost 50 years.
He said, “ I am virtually at every Mass except for funerals and weddings. On Mondays I visit the shut-ins, do home visits and serve communion.”
Laughing, he said, “I tell the ladies if they invite me for dinner I will put them at the top of my list.”
An advocate for learning, Kaas said, “I maintain in all our lives we need to have something to study.” Presently he is studying the New Roman Missal.