Local Woodcarver Remembers Work with Gene Wilder

MESHOPPEN -- A world champion chainsaw carver from Luzerne County is remembering Gene Wilder, the late great actor who passed away Monday from complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

Earlier this year, Dennis Beach of Wapwallopen carved a likeness of Wilder at Wilder’s Connecticut property.

"Very gentle, kind type person, easy spoken, you know, but very intelligent, and he knew what he wanted,” said Beach, describing Wilder.

Beach says a woman who owned a garden center near Wilder's home met Beach in Puerto Rico and made the introduction.

Beach never imagined he would work his chainsaw magic for Willy Wonka, himself, although Wilder was about much more than that character.

"He didn't want to be remembered as just Willy Wonka because he had made so many movies. He wrote and directed and acted in so many good movies. He wanted everyone to remember him through all of his accomplishments,” said Beach.

Over the course of four or five days, Beach and Wilder worked together to get the carving just right.

In the end, Wilder signed pictures Beach used to make the work of art. Beach says he treasures them.

"I've got them home in my safe until I can get them professionally framed."

Beach has been a chainsaw carver for 35 years. He's made a lot of pieces for some pretty famous people, but he won't forget the famous funnyman and what they made together, a carving which remains at Wilder's home where his widow lives.

Beach is carving at the Wyoming County Fair this week. His pieces will be auctioned off on Sunday.