Posted Online: Jan. 01, 2013, 6:05 pm

Q-C artist Ostrom is an inspiration

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By John Marx, jmarx@qconline.com

Photo: Submitted
Artist Warren Ostrom donated his 'Jesus Loves the Little Children' creation to the pediatrics unit at Trinity Rock Island.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Despite not having a formal art education, Warren Ostrom has created detailed stained-glass windows and wood carvings that are on permanent display inside the chapel at Trinity Rock Island. A former Navy Seal, Mr. Ostrom is now a local businessman and artist who enjoys creating religious-themed pieces.
In his mid-80s and fiercely fighting muscular dystrophy, Warren Ostrom rose from his wheelchair. The room, out of respect for such a giving and gracious man, went quiet.

"It is an honor that the Lord shared with me the vision to bring this work to life,'' Ostrom told those gathered recently just outside the pediatrics unit at Trinity Rock Island.
Ostrom, Trinity staffers and Trinity board members were on hand to dedicate the gorgeous "Jesus Loves the Little Children" wood carving donated by Ostrom to Trinity. It is the third such piece of art he has donated to Trinity, and the children depicted in the wood carving are based on Ostrom's grandchildren.

"I'm humbled at the opportunity to be able to share it,'' Ostrom said of his latest piece of art. "Life has its challenges, but I'm fortunate to be able to still do many things I love, and creating this piece was a work of love. You know, I've been counted out many times, but never heard the referee.''

Two other Ostrom works hang in the Trinity Rock Island chapel, while another is in the surgery waiting area.

"The need to give back is always there for me,'' Ostrom said. "My faith and trust in the Lord will always be my guiding force.''

Ostrom, who works with natural materials like bone, feathers, stone and wood, especially is drawn to American Indian art and spirituality. His work is displayed in seven museums, including the Figge Art Museum in Davenport and the Smithsonian affiliate in Peoria.

"We are so grateful that Warren has dedicated himself to bettering the lives of so many with his work,'' said Dana Wilkinson, Trinity Foundation board member. "In addition to his many talents, Warren is a giving and caring man. We cannot thank him enough.''

It should be noted Ostrom is a successful businessman who built Ostrom Painting & Sandblasting into a company recognized across the globe. He also is a decorated war veteran, having served in special forces as a Navy frogman.

Switching hats for just a moment on a day set to honor his work, his generosity and his giving spirit, Ostrom tackled a tough issue. He also issued a challenge to Americans everywhere.

"I served my country honorably, and I struggle with how our country is being managed and the way veterans are treated these days,'' he said. "I struggle especially knowing there are homeless veterans out there and a country with so many resources that allows something like that to happen. It's just a shame.''

The dedication ceremony was my first chance to see and understand the fruits of Ostrom's creative labor. I was impressed.

But listening to a self-made man who cares so much for the world around him left a lifelong impression. The man, his work, and all he stands for are inspirational.

Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or jmarx@qconline.com.