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Working with wood

Working with wood
Ed Buss, pictured with his wife Mary, has built a furniture item to be sold on the FIRE auction every year since it started in 2006. FIRE is an annual fundraiser for the Lutheran schools in Adams County.

Hastings resident builds, donates furniture items to local fundraiser


Hastings, Neb. (February 25, 2019) – Ed Buss is good at working with his hands, and he believes in giving back.


The Hastings man has built a variety of furniture pieces, nearly all from wood, and donated them to local fundraisers.

Hastings resident Ed Buss designed and built “snowboard” chairs for the live auction at the FIRE banquet this year. Buss, who is 86 years old, also donates handmade furniture to the Heartland Lutheran School fundraiser in Grand Island.

For the last fourteen years, he has built and donated a piece of furniture to FIRE (Faithfully Investing in Religious Education), the annual banquet held to raise funds for the two Lutheran schools in Adams County.


Buss, who is 86 years young, has a way with his hands, and he’s shared his gift with others. Often getting his ideas from magazines, he’s made a coffee table inlaid with strips of walnut and birch; a wine rack; a child’s play stove and desk; step stools, a bookcase, and more. His items are often one-of-a-kind items, made of solid wood, and unique.


Buss has donated at least one item each year to the FIRE auction, held this year on Saturday, March 2 at the Adams Co. Fairgrounds. As a youngster, he attended First Trinity School in rural Gage County, then St. Paul Lutheran School in Beatrice, and believes strongly in a parochial education.


He’s lived all over the nation. After graduating from Beatrice High School in 1950, he worked for a year and a half before being drafted into the U.S. Air Force. He was in the Air Force for 24 years, doing aircraft maintenance and being stationed everywhere from San Antonio, Texas, and Illinois, where he was first sent for training, then to Korea, California, Alaska, Offutt Air Force Base, and finishing in England. When he was discharged in 1974, he left as a senior master sergeant.

Hastings resident Ed Buss designed and built “snowboard” chairs for the live auction at the FIRE banquet this year. Buss, who is 86 years old, also donates handmade furniture to the Heartland Lutheran School fundraiser in Grand Island.

After the Air Force, he managed a parts store in Schuyler, then was a rural carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Columbus, Clarks, and Polk.  In 1999, he retired and moved to Hastings, where one of he and his wife Mary’s three children live.


Since then, he’s done woodwork, giving it away to grateful organizations and individuals who love the well-crafted pieces that are solidly built.


He feels that the education he got at a Lutheran school was beneficial. “I wanted to give back,” he said. “I enjoy doing the woodwork, so I decided to make things and give them away. Hopefully they help the situation of others.”


This year, the item Buss is donating for auction at FIRE is the most untraditional he’s ever made, and the first item he’s donated that hasn’t been made of wood.  He has handcrafted two chairs, made from snowboards. His granddaughter works at a ski resort in Colorado, and when he saw that they were going to be thrown away, he decided he could repurpose them. It took his creative eye to cut them, (plus several blades, to cut through the occasional piece of metal in the boards) and mount them to the chair legs and back.


Ed and Mary have been married for 66 years; their daughter, Melissa Schmidt, lives in Hastings. Their other daughter is in Washington, and their son lives in Colorado.


In its fourteenth year, Ed and Mary have never missed a year of attending the FIRE banquet. The banquet, after its bills are paid, splits its proceeds evenly between Christ Lutheran School in rural Juniata and Zion Lutheran School in Hastings. Last year, FIRE raised $109,000 which was divided between the schools.


The FIRE banquet will be held on March 2 at the Adams Co. Fairgrounds in Hastings. Doors open at 5 pm; the meal begins at 6:30 pm with the live auction to follow. Over 300 items will be on the live and silent auctions. Valet parking is available. Tickets are $60 per person and are available at Zion Lutheran Church and School (462.5012), Christ Lutheran Church (744.4991) and Ruhter Auction (463.8565). Visit or call 319.321.2152 for more information. 

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