Neighboring Laurel, Mississippi, is the small, rural community of Hebron. In Hebron is a well-loved and talented maker named Bobby Ray, who loves to make things of all sorts. His specialty is birdhouses, but he rarely limits himself to one thing. He prides himself on not planning his work at all. It's whatever comes to him at the carving table that comes to be. Bobby Ray's one-of-a-kind pieces have become a staple for Hebron locals and captured the attention of Laurel Mercantile lovers as well.
Bobby says, "I retired after working as a Plummer at South Central Regional Hospital for over 25 years. I was a supervisor there, but I've always loved using my hands."
He continues, " I ain't no carpenter, but I love creating. This is just a hobby that makes me happy and makes other people happy. That's all I want to do— make people happy."
Bobby's love for making birdhouses stems from his passion for southern birds. His favorite part of making birdhouses is watching the birds sing after they nestle into their new home. He's quite the singer as well.
He said, "They [birds] are beautiful for one, and I like to sing. Sometimes, we together and sing when I go fishing."
Bobby sang Tenor in a traveling Gospel quartet in his earlier years. They traveled all over the south to Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, and more. He's found so much joy in sharing his voice, and now he's excited to share his work with the world.
Yet Bobby knows his work wouldn't be possible without his biggest supporter and sweet bride, Myrtis. After 51 years together, she's his most treasured gift, and she's always supported and encouraged him to be creative.
Bobby says, "She's my sweet lady. We met in the ninth grade! He jokes, She may not say the same about me, but I love her. I know she loves me because she's stayed by me through all my surgeries. I've had two broken leg surgeries, two hip surgeries, open-heart surgery, and knee surgery. She's always been right beside me."
With two children, five grandchildren, and one new great-grandchild, Bobby says that he's a blessed man, and God has given him the talent to share with others. He hopes to share his love for others through his birdhouses and others' works and put a smile on their face.
We're so grateful that Bobby Ray is a part of our first Mississippi Made in 2022. Be sure to check out his woodwork on March 12, 2022!