Voted as the Best Assisted Living in Delaware County, Five Star Senior Living in Glen Mills has been providing personal care to its residents since 1999. And over the years, the community has welcomed countless residents who have amazing stories and talents to share.
Born in Berlin, Gottel immigrated to Canada when he was in his 30s. He stayed there for three years, before moving to Pennsylvania in 1964 and working various jobs, including a shipyard laborer and security guard.
“I was always adventurous and wanted to see things,” he said of his decision to leave Germany and eventually settle in the U.S.
“I could travel as much as I wanted to, and I made good use of it,” he said. “I hopped on the bus, went somewhere for a couple of days, then hopped back on the bus and went somewhere else. I saw quite a bit of the United States.”
When Gottel was not traveling, he was immersed in woodcarving, a hobby he taught himself while in Canada.
“I went to a store and saw some beautiful woodcarvings for sale, and I thought I wanted to try that, because they cost a lot of money,” he said. “When I went home, I started whittling. I wouldn’t want you to see the first carving I did, but I got better and better.”
At first, Gottel concentrated on bird carvings, until his wife helped change his mind.
“She said, ‘Why are you carving birds? Everybody does that,’” he recalled. “So, since then, I’ve done mostly people.”
Gottel is a fan of Norman Rockwell and was inspired to create a rendition of Rockwell’s own self-portrait but carved in wood.
Though Gottel has exhibited his carvings in various shows, he prefers to share them with others, rather than sell them.
“I’ve never sold any,” he said. “They are just for myself or I give them a way. I once made a woodcarving to give to someone else that I liked so much, I made another one for myself.”
Now at 80 years old and a new resident of Five Star Senior Living, Gottel is no longer able to create new woodcarvings.
“I stopped four years ago when my hands couldn’t do it anymore,” he said. “But I’ve had a good time doing it.”
Still, Gottel will gladly show residents and visitors to Five Star Senior Living his collection of woodcarvings and regale them with tales of his many adventures throughout the U.S.