George Wurtzel, Blind Carpenter

When writing this overview about a recent filming we did with sixty-year old George Wurtzel, a resident of Minneapolis, MN, it’s important that I make it very clear George is totally blind and has been since a very young child.

George’s carpentry expertise range from coffee tables, cabinets, custom wood bowls and beautiful urns made out of pine.  George is currently in the process of building a small, three-foot sailing vessel that will be holding the ashes of a twenty-four year old sarcoma cancer patient from Michigan.

Maire Kent died on September 27th after an 11-month fight with cardiac sarcoma.  Her final wish was that her ashes could be placed in a sailboat and set sail in northern Michigan. 

Maire’s desire to do this stems from a book she used to read as a young girl with her brothers and sisters titled “Paddle to the Sea.”  George had come to Michigan to meet with Maire so he could better understand her wishes and to get to know her.

While George sat with Maire, we watched him carve the outline of Maire’s boat out of Styrofoam.  Maire passed away three weeks later.  Since her death, the University of Michigan Health System has created the Maire Kent Memorial Fund for Cardiac Tumor Research.

George will complete Maire’s boat this winter.  The celebration launch will take place in June 2014.  Maire’s ashes and her boat’s entire journey to the ocean will be filmed for the documentary series “The Embrace of Dying,” how we deal with the end of life.

If you would like to read more about George, please visit