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Signs of the cross

Dick Samson has been through the rigors of the working-man's life.

In his day, he's dabbled in several different fields. But he's probably best known for helping launch a construction company that is now run by his son, Rick.

He's put in his work weeks, come home to his wife and kids, and enjoyed time on the weekend in his house on Cherry Court.

Now, it's his time.

Dick no longer punches a clock, or worries about his overtime. He doesn't have to sell cars or look at floor plans (even though he still does) each day of the work week.

Instead, he can work at his own pace.

And he doesn't mind the job description at all.

"I'm having fun," he said from his longtime home in West Fargo. "I can go out to the garage now and just spend hours out there. My wife (DeVonne) will come to the door and ask me what the heck I'm doing out here."

It could be any number of things. During the summer, Dick can be seen playing golf, and hunting for golf balls at Maple River Golf Course. Chances are, if you've lost a ball somewhere out at the Mapleton course, it's in Dick's garage now.

He's got them by the dozens. In boxes. By brand. Dozens of them grouped together on a storage shelf that would make Austad's jealous.

But that's not what he loves to do.

Dick has gone back to tools, inspired by faith, making crosses out of wood.

It's not hard to find his supplies. Dick still helps Rick on a regular basis with things like trim and crown molding and banister posts inside of the beautiful homes that Samson Construction has built across the area, including a gorgeous home on Sheyenne Street.

"You have to have the trim, but it comes in these huge pieces, so there's usually a few inches left over," Samson said. "I've been making parts for these houses for years, and we'd been giving the trim to these guys who go icefishing. They said they liked to burn the wood in their warming houses. I thought, 'Hey, that's good wood. Why don't I do something with it?'"

It started with just a few, but now Samson has hundreds of crosses to his credit, dozens of them hanging in the basement of his house. He's donated some to churches, including Maple Sheyenne Lutheran Church near Harwood (where his brother and nephew attend services with their wives), Lutheran Church of the Cross in West Fargo, and many others.

They range in size, depending on the amount of material he has to work with. His latest creation is one large item. It's seven feet tall, and about four and a half feet across. It's made from crown molding that was used in a home.

"Just found it and decided to glue it together," he said.

Most, however, are smaller. Like the ornaments he sent to the Iowa Septuplets, which gained national attention. In an NBC news interview, the cameraman zoomed in on the family Christmas tree. There were the seven crosses Dick had sent after reading a story in the paper and finding out the family's address. They sent him a personalized card.

He's even sent crosses with mission trips to places like South Africa and Cambodia. Fergus Falls even asked for a pulpit, which he's made, along with bookstands for bibles and others. Other items have gone to Alaska and New Mexico.

"They're all donated," he said. "The supplies are cheap, so it's not like there's a huge cost involved for me."

He does spend money on things like stain, sandpaper, and glue. But it's a work of love, nothing that he really wants to make a business of.

"I have been doing this for about 15 years," he said of the crosses. "I'm not sure how the churches and people find me. Word gets out, I guess. I just get an idea in my head and go with it."

But he does sell some. Melberg's in Moorhead sells them frequently, he said. And he's supplied the Christian Book Store in West Acres with some. The new Rainbow Shop near Home Depot also carries some of Samson's handiwork.

"I think I could maybe sell some online," he said. "That might be a lot of work though."

And for a guy whose license plate reads 'PLAY9,' work can cut into that big hobby of his.