Carved bear stolen from center

By Kevin Wilson

He never said a thing and he never had a name, but his absence has left a mark on the employees and the residents of the Bee Hive assisted living center in Portales.

Nearly two weeks ago, a 5-foot-tall wooden bear was stolen from the porch of the house.

The bear, a gift from Ortega and Sons Construction about three years ago, was discovered missing on the morning of Oct. 3. There are no clues as to its whereabouts or who is responsible.

“I have no idea,” said Dan Stricklin, who owns the Bee Hive homes in Portales and Clovis.

“My guess is, it’s a prank, but I have no idea why anybody would do that, especially from an old folks’ home.”

The bear is a custom item available from a man in Ruidoso called Mark Williams who calls himself the Bear Carver. The bears are carved from tree trunks, using a chainsaw.

“If you ever go down to Ruidoso, there is a gentleman (Williams) that carves bears out of tree trunks,” Stricklin said. “It looks just like a 5-foot bear. This particular bear was looking up to the bee hive we have in the ceiling.”

Now the bee hive hangs by itself, and people at the assisted living center don’t know what to do about the missing resident they called the Bee Hive Bear.

“All you could see (on the porch that morning) was the bark (that fell off) from the bottom,” said Dessie Hebert, a manager at the Portales center. “(Residents are) asking what happened to the bear. It’s something that’s always been there and now it’s gone.”

The Portales Police Department has so far found no suspects, and Capt. Lonnie Berry said nothing has been discovered to indicate a motive of any type.

Stricklin is guessing the bear was stolen as a prank sometime between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Though he never lifted it, he estimated the bear weighed about 150 pounds and could fit in the back seat of a car or the back of a pickup truck.

Stricklin said anybody with information on the bear’s whereabouts could contact the Bee Hive, and he is offering an unspecified reward.