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Honoring Neil Lamens

The woodworking industry has lost a very valuable member. Neil Lamens of Brookhaven , NY passed away on Wednesday, September 19th of complications from esophageal cancer at the age of 57. He actually beat the esophagus cancer with treatment, diagnosed back in early 2011, but the cancer spread into his lungs and other areas. He handled it all the same way he handled life, with a positive attitude, living life to the fullest right up until the end.

“He was the most passionate person I’ve met, by far, about helping others be successful in making american furniture.”…M. Scott Morton

According to Neil’s nephew Cody Lamens, “Neil was in between his first round of chemo and the esophageal surgery.  Doc’s wanted to do an aggressive round of chemo before the surgery to get the cancer to a manageable place.  Here is his tweet about it.  Just from the tweet you can see the determination he showed everyday.”  Neil was enjoying one of the things he loved to do most, swimming. It was almost like he was saying, don’t tell me I can’t do this, just watch me!

Most of all, Neil was a husband to Gigi for 34 years. Neil and Gigi (left at Tommy Mac’s wedding) met in elementary school, started dating in junior high school early in their teens and have been best friends and partners ever since. Cody mentioned, “They referred to each other as “buddy” quite often.” And, “Neil made sure to have breakfast with Gigi each and every morning, as they were very much in love with each other and inseparable.”

     Gigi was a huge supporter of Neil and his work. She was always behind the camera, shooting Neil’s Furnitology Production videos.

Neil attended West Islip High School. He went on to Oswego State University of NY, studying in the industrial arts program earning his undergraduate degree.  From there, he attended Pace University for his MBA in Finance and International Finance. Additional bio information can be found on Neil’s Furnitology “About” page.

Neil’s secondary passion was woodworking. Neil knew furniture in-depth through reading, absorbing information so he could name the pieces and tell you all about it. If someone named a book, he read it. His manufacturing knowledge led to his woodshop practices creating special high quality products from plywood and veneer builds. According to Cody, “There was a time when Neil couldn’t get good plywood, so he made his own and sold it to the smaller shops in need.” Cody told us, “Neil taught me woodworking and helped me get my EllaMenoPea Children’s Furniture Business off the ground. He told me confidently to make the decision and just go do it.”

“Neil was a kind, funny, and loyal friend and I was blessed to have him in my life”…Tommy MacDonald

Neil was a fan of modern clean line design furniture, following the collections of Wendell Castle. Neil knew everything about design and how to use it. He knew how to take an MDF design and create something beautiful from it. According to Neil’s friend and colleague, Justin DiPalma (www.craftedheirlooms.com), “Neil knew how to take an MDF design and create something beautiful from it. He wrote a lot of articles, knew what design was and how to use it.” He had the ability to think outside the box. One time Neil used a vacuum bag to bend a piece of wood, keeping it in there until it was formed.” Justin also said of his friend, “Neil knew it was time for his generation of woodworkers to move aside and let up and coming talent in. It was time for breaking out of the mold with new manipulation and redesign for the modern day furniture builds. His beliefs were exemplified in his own work at Furnitology Productions.”

“I owe a lot to Neil for giving me confidence, encouraging me to push my limits, and inspiring me”…Rob Bois

Neil was a huge friend and supporter of  Tommy MacDonald and the PBS show, Rough Cut-Woodworking with Tommy Mac and appeared as a guest on Season One, Episode 8, Keepsake Jewelry Box at Tommy’s shop. Tommy expressed, “Neil was a kind,  funny, and loyal friend and I was blessed to have him in my life, his words of wisdom went way beyond woodworking.. He was one of those guys  who brought out the best in people around him.. he was a very bright light …I will miss him”

From McLaughlin Woods, Tom writes, “I was stunned to read this news last night…which struck me because I only got to know Neil during those four days when we first met at the Wood Expo in 2011 and considered him a good friend. He was the kind of guy you like immediately…full of enthusiasm, twinkle in his eye, humor and passion for the moment. I remember our lively conversations, he had that unusual gift of listening with the same intensity as when he was speaking…you could feel the love from the guy…a great example for me. When retuning to Wood Expo earlier this year, I think I was most disappointed when I learned he would not be there. I missed him then…I miss him more now.”

 

 

Neil was loved and appreciated by many, like Scott Morton (www.scottmorton.com). Scott reflected, “Neil reached out to encourage me in furniture making – from my design to manufacture.  I didn’t solicit him, but he reached out to *me*.  That’s how much Neil cared about his business and helping other people trying to accomplish similar goals together.  He was the most passionate person I’ve met, by far, about helping others be successful in making american furniture.”

From Rick Waters of Sawdust Chronicles, “Neil had the ability to see our potential, and communicate it to us in his unique style of acknowledgement mixed with a heaping portion of unsatisfied encouragement. His laughter and comedic style was contagious.  Neil was never afraid to tell you what he thought about something/someone, but his criticisms always included suggestions of how to make things/people better.  Neil’s passion for design didn’t stop at furniture, you could see him trying to help you improve yourself – he never believed any design was complete/done.  I’ll miss Neil greatly.”

The world was a better place with Neil in it, and we’ll all miss him.”…Ben Barrett

Berkshire Veneer Company’s Ben Barrett emails, “The first time I met Neil was at Build Boston. He welcomed me with open arms as though he’d known me forever. While his physical stature may have been intimidating, his warm heart and gentle giant mannerisms were quite the contrary. The world was a better place with Neil in it, and we’ll all miss him.”

This video shows Neil’s passion for American woodworking, business, mentoring, sharing and giving back to new talents in the industry. This is truly who he was and what he was about. Taken at the 2010 Wood Expo at the New England Home Show at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center, we would like to share with you and dedicate this video to Neil.


Another friend and colleague, Rob Bois (www.newtonwoodworking.com) stated, “I still have very vivid memories of this day and the impact it had on me at the time.  I owe a lot to Neil for giving me confidence, encouraging me to push my limits, and inspiring me.  For that, he will always be remembered.  The woodworking community as a whole is forever indebted to him.”

Neil started his first Furnitology Productions series of educational woodworking films with this video,

Neil’s teachings and beliefs will long be remembered by his friends, colleagues and woodworking community.

Service Information for Neil:
Date: Saturday, Sept 22nd
7:00-9:00PM
@
Robertaccio Funeral Home, Inc.
85 Medford Avenue
Patchogue, NY 11772

Gigi shared, “I know that coming all the way here will not be possible for many. So, if there is anyone who would like to make a donation, I have established the Neil Lamens Fund for Athletics at St. Joseph’s College where he spent time everyday.  He really knew all the students, went to many games, worked out with them…and was well known and well respected.  So…if anyone wants to make a donation instead  of flowers, checks are made out to St. Joseph’s College with a note accompanying stating that the donation is to be applied to the Neil Lamens Fund.”

“Thank you all for giving Neil some of the best times and memories ever!”…Gigi

Donation Address for Neil Lamens Fund, Established by Gigi Lamens:
St. Joseph’s College
155 West Roe Blvd
Patchogue, NY 11772
Attn: Nancy Conners

 

 
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Comments (17)

  1. avatar
    Bruce Somers, September 21, 2012
    I miss Neil already. To me, Neil was an inspiration, a mentor, an honest critic, but most of all, a valued friend. Reply
    • avatar
      frank, September 21, 2012
      Thanks Bruce for your response. It won't be the same without him. Reply
  2. avatar
    Stephen Duffy, September 21, 2012
    My sincere and heartfelt condolences to Gigi and all those close to Neil. Neil's inspirational/educational videos, expansive knowledge of manufacturing and design and love of the woodworking craft were catalysts to ignite my woodworking journey. While I never actually got an opportunity to meet and get to know Neil; he has significantly enhanced and inspired me in my endeavors. Rest in peace... Reply
    • avatar
      frank, September 21, 2012
      Thanks Stephen for your kind words. It is nice to know that Neil reached folks like you without even meeting. Reply
    • avatar
      Cody Lamens, September 21, 2012
      Stephen - thanks for sharing. That is exactly what Neil stood for. Igniting new people to get out in the shop and make it happen. I'm glad to know that he reached so many. Now, we have to keep his message going!! Reply
    • avatar
      Stephen Duffy, September 21, 2012
      Anything I can do let me know! I'd be honored to be a part of it! Reply
  3. avatar
    Ace HoleInOne, September 21, 2012
    For me, Neil was a true inspiration. Always encouraging, just get going, do it...build something. Enjoy the process, learn as you go. I have exchanged many email's with Neil over the years, having fallen out of contact with him the past few. Was saddened by the news of his passing. A true Pioneer of the Internet Woodworking Community. Rest in peace my friend......one last thing, say hey to Carlo! :) -Ace- Reply
  4. avatar
    JerrySats, September 22, 2012
    RIP Neil Lamens , you will be missed but not forgotten . Your passion for the craft will live on in many of your fellow woodworkers . Reply
  5. avatar
    Jeff Hicks Williams, September 22, 2012
    The woodworking community has lost the most passionate man I've ever met in the field .His Love of our work was as genuine as it gets.God Bless Reply
  6. avatar
    Rob Porcaro, September 23, 2012
    Neil will be missed by so many people. His energy and passion about furniture design were contagious. Neil was a force - I always felt uplifted from conversations and email exchanges with him. Though boundlessly enthusiastic about the fields of furniture and woodworking, his great gift was that he so generously cared most about wanting others to succeed. Neil, farewell and God bless. Reply
  7. avatar
    David Lankford, September 23, 2012
    It is such a shame for a man with great passion to be taken this early in life. He gave so much and I am sure had much more to give. American craftsmen have lost a true champion. My sincerest condolences to Gigi and those who loved Neil. Reply
  8. avatar
    Kathleen, September 23, 2012
    A beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. Reply
  9. avatar
    shawn field, September 24, 2012
    My condolences to his family, he sounds like a wonderful person. Reply
  10. avatar
    Paige, September 25, 2012
    I remember Gigi having coffee with "her charmer" when we were away in another state for a work conference. Very sweet. A truly amazing couple with so much love and respect for each other. I feel so lucky to have known Neil. My prayers are with Gigi and the Lamens family. Reply
  11. avatar
    Paul Homes in Australia, September 26, 2012
    Neil was among my favorite woodwork video podcasters, freely sharing his ideas and talent. I learned a lot from Neil through his posts and eagerly awaited each new up-load. Please accept my condolences. Reply
  12. avatar
    Zac Higgins, October 8, 2012
    Neil also inspires me to get out and build something, and it is truly a tragic loss to both the woodworking and world community. I have learned so much from Neil through his podcast, and I regret that I never got a chance to thank him for sharing his knowledge with us all. Neil lives on through all that he has touched. Reply
  13. avatar
    Dana Caffrey, October 11, 2012
    I would like to give my deepest condolences to the family of Neil. I may not know him personally, but I know his works. His woodworks are truly a work of art. A great loss! WilsonAndMcCracken.com Reply
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