The following is excerpted from the Knife News column in the January 2023 issue of KNIFE Magazine. It was written by KNIFE Publisher Mark Zalesky:
The knife community recently lost two longtime knifemakers who both served The Knife-makers’ Guild in various capacities over extended periods of time.
Wayne Hensley of Conyers, Georgia died November 1 at the age of 82. Wayne made his first knife in 1973 and for 45 years was a member and dedicated supporter of the Guild, serving on the Board of Directors for 24 years including 14 as Vice President, all with the assistance of his wife Rebecca – to whom he was married almost 60 years. Wayne supported knife organizations at every level, including the Georgia Custom Knifemakers’ Guild, the Chattahoochee Cutlery Club, the Flint River Knife Club, and the Miniature Knifemaker’s Society. A stock removal knifemaker who seemed to enjoy following his muse wherever it led him, Hensley produced a wide variety of fixed blade and folding knives, many of them featuring hol-low grinds and a beautiful mirror polish. The first knives were marked WHG in an arrowhead design, but in 1980 he started marking them HENSLEY. He retired from BellSouth in 1999, becoming a full time knifemaker at that time.Over the years Wayne won many awards for his knives as well as for his steadfast service to the knife community. (Photo courtesy Lee Beene, leescutlery.com)
D’alton Holder, known to all simply as “D,” died on November 19, also at 82. He made his first knife in 1966 on the way to a knifemaking career that spanned over 55 years. D’s career really took off after joining the fledgeling Knifemakers’ Guild in 1973. He was first elected to a Board of Directors po-sition in 1976, and served every position on the Board over the next 23 years – including three terms as President. Working at different times in both Arizona and Texas, he helped found the Arizona Knifemakers Association, served as President of the Arizona Knife Collectors, and was an early supporter of the American Knife and Tool Institute (AKTI). His many contribu-tions to the industry earned him a position in the Blade Maga-zine Cutlery Hall of Fame, to which he was elected in 2003. It’s said that he taught knifemaking to over 75 different makers. Early on D’ achieved a difficult feat in knifemaking; the creation of a popular style that was all his own. That was D’s “My Knife,” a narrow tang drop point hunter with a distinctive stacked handle, usually consisting of amber and oosic. He favored smaller, practical fixed blades but over his long career made a wide variety of different styles and did them all well.
It’s men (and women) like these that helped build the custom knife industry into what it is today, and it will be others like them who lead us into the future.