Lubbock toymaker is now making more than toys - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Lubbock toymaker is now making more than toys


For over 20 years, 87-year-old Tom McCoy has devoted his talents to others.

He grew up in the Great Depression during the 1930’s, a time of scarcity….yet generosity.

“One day out of the clear blue, I heard a voice say, ‘Come here, son,’” McCoy said. “He said, ‘Son, I see your truck don’t have any wheels on it,’ and he had his hand behind him and he swung it around and said, ‘Here, I built you one.’ And there’s no words in the English language that I could describe what I saw or what I felt.”

That mysterious man, who McCoy calls an angel, disappeared right after that moment.

“He planted a seed that took about 60 years to germinate,” he said. “But when it did, it blossomed.”

As a pastor’s son, a Navy veteran and a retired electrician, McCoy said he has devoted his golden years to charitable craftsmanship: making toys to give away to children.

“There’s just no satisfaction that money could buy,” he said, “that you receive when you surprise a youngster with something that becomes the pride of his life.”

McCoy designs these handmade toys in his backyard workshop with leftover wood from his son-in-law, Dan Wilson, and his homebuilding business.

The toys include firetrucks, Crayola trucks, cradles, and more…all complete with paint and moving parts.

“It gets turned into something that, some of these toys will actually get passed down from generations,” Wilson said.

The extravagant detail of these toys is not what impresses McCoy’s daughter, Lisa Wilson, the most.

“All the times that he’s out in the shop building these toys,” she said, “every toy that gets built, he has prayed for that child, whoever that child may be.”

But Lisa has watched her father serve others with his talents even before this toy making mission began.

“It’s just so neat to see they’re fixing to celebrate their 64th wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks,” Lisa said.

In front of McCoy’s workshop is the home he designed for the second “angel” he met.

“She was in a white dress at a tent church service,” McCoy said. “At the time I worked for an evangelistic association.”

Leonna Ruth, known as Ruthie, was 16 years old at the time. They began dating long-distance and would talk on the phone at night since she was a telephone operator in Levelland.

“He’s very precious to me,” Ruthie said. “And I hope I am to him.”

McCoy married Ruthie two years later when she turned 18 in 1952.

“My only regret is we didn’t marry sooner,” McCoy said.

If only Ruthie’s health could be as strong as the bond they share.

“She was preparing dinner and I noticed she was crying,” McCoy said, “and that’s not her.”

Scoliosis is a disease frustrating to understand for a fixer.

“I knew she was hurting,” McCoy said, “and I just hung my head and I said, ‘God, is there anything I can do to help her?”

Almost instantly, McCoy formed a blueprint in his mind to construct rolling crutches and a scooter: both made of wood.

Ruthie is able to stand for hours at a time now, because of the alieviated pressure from her back through McCoy’s woodwork.

“There wasn’t much life before,” she said, “because my back wouldn’t hold up.”

These “big girl toys” make the McCoys feel young again.

“We go the grocery store and I ride this [scooter],” Ruthie said, “and ring my little bell so everybody will know I’m coming through.”

Their playdates are even when Ruthie sews doll mattresses for Tom’s toy cradles.

“We lived happily ever after, as long as he does what I tell him to,” Ruthie said, laughing.

Which is not too hard, for a woodshop toymaker with a servant’s heart.  

“I love the thrill that I get from seeing her enjoy or be satisfied with it,” McCoy said. “It’s fulfilling.” ?

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