Jamie Kiffel - 11/16/99
She invented a
stylish new accessory!
Lorry hated using a cane...so she
turned the walking stick into an
accessory so glamorous, people can't
wait to get their hands on them!
"Me? Use a cane?!" Lorry Gregory asked
her doctor in disbelief three years ago. A
former tennis pro who now works at an
air-conditioning firm, Lorry couldn't
picture herself walking with a cane. But
when a fall gave her no choice but to make
a cane part of her wardrobe, she found a
way to make it an outstanding
"All the canes I see look like hospital
equipment! How can I feel good if my cane
makes me look old?" Lorry frowned to her
grown daughter Lorrae. "We'll think of
something," Lorrae soothed. And a few days
later, she surprised Lorry with a
rainbow-striped cane made by an artist!
"Now this has style!" Lorry exclaimed -
and she got to thinking: I change my purse
for different outfits. Why not my cane? So
she got to work, sawing and gluing until
she had her first custom cane, sequined
from top to bottom!
"That's no old lady cane!" exclaimed her
grandson Kyle, 15. And when she took it
out for a walk..."Now that's what I need!"
said one neighbor. "My ugly, gray thing
makes me feel awful!"
Inspired, Lorry got back to work, and
soon had a star-spangled July Fourth cane,
a jungle cane, and all kinds of others! I
bet other people would like to see this,
Lorry thought. So she called up
a few retirement communities, re-named
herself The Cane Lady and took her show to
the road. She'd set out an assortment of
canes, and soon, everyone would be
laughing as they strutted with fancy canes
decorated with sequins and flowers. "I
feel like dancing!" one man laughed.
Lorry even set up a website
(www.geomagnet.com/canelady) where people
can order custom canes. But Lorry notes
she's not hoping for riches - she gives
many of the canes away or sells them at
"But it's worth it - I love showing that
a cane doesn't have to make you feel
sluggish," she grins. "In fact, the only
thing about my canes that'll slow you down
is the crowd of people who'll stop you to
by Robert Nolin
Colorful canes are
flights of fancy for Parkland woman.
Lorry Gregory is raising canes to new
heights of design. For about a year she
has crafted walking sticks in every hue of
the rainbow and every mode of whimsy.
There are candy-colored canes, silver,
gold, green, yellow, red and blue. They
are bedecked with flowers, beads,
feathers, butterflies, googly eyes, happy
faces and sea shells.
of Parkland, uses a cane from
necessity, but her handmade,
whimsical walking sticks are
as much fun as functional. And
to share the pleasure she gets
from them, Gregory has been
giving them away to those who
comment favoralbley on them.
On a recent cruis, she handed
out about 20 to her practical
works of art
"I just think it's kind of a pick-me-up,"
Gregory says. "If you have to use a cane,
why does it have to be so drab?"
Gregory, 69, uses a cane herself. She has
carried one since a fall about a year ago
activated a case of arthritis. That's when
the widow turned her creative juices loose
on what has traditionally been a simple
Now, with about 50 canes to choose from,
the "Cane Lady" sports a different stick
every day when she goes to her job as an
estimator with an air-conditioning testing
firm. She even has holiday-specific canes:
red, white, blue and star spangled for the
Fourth of July; green holly and red for
Christmas; hearts and flowers for St.
"They go with every outfit. People get a
kick out of them, "Gregory says. "No
matter where I go, everybody has a comment
Comments were heard aplenty last spring
when Gregory took about 40 canes on a
cruise. For the shipboard gambling,
Gregory stepped up to the tables with a
special model = decorated with toy money
and dice. "I had a lot of fun with it in
the casino," she says, laughing.
Gregory ended up giving away about 20
canes to delighted fellow cruisers, who
dubbed her the Cane Lady. "These canes are
in various parts of the country," she
Giving away her natty staffs - even to
people who remark upon them - is part of
Gregory's scheme. She has donated more
than a dozen to people who need a cane but
may not have the means to buy one. "If you
have to use a can, why not strut in
style?" she says.
Besides being a vehicle for Gregory's
generosity, cane-decorating offers another
outlet for Gregory, a breast cancer
survivor whose daughter was killed in a
1985 car crash caused by a convicted felon
fleeing the police.
|"They go with
every outfit. People get a
kick out of them. No matter
where I go, everybody has a
comment to make."
"It's good therapy for me."Gregory says.
"I enjoy it a lot."
Working in her backyard gazebo, Gregory
makes the canes form oaken,
broom-handle-type wood bought at the
hardware store. She cuts the pieces to
size, drills holes for the dowels and
glues the handle to the shaft. Then she
applies whatever design suits her fancy,
utilizing such craft staples as pearls,
ribbons, spray paint and stones. "I'm
always looking for new ideas," Gregory
Her output is about two canes a week, and
Gregory estimates she spends $15 to $20 on
each. It takes about 10 hours to produce
each cane. But the hobby is starting to
take a financial toll.
"Eventually I may have to offset some of
the cost to myself and sell some,"Gregory
says. But her other daughter, Lorrae
Flanders, with whom Gregory lives, has
another concern."We'll have to add a wing
to house my mother's canes," she teases.
SPRINGS - PARKLAND FORUM
Thursday, January 28, 1999
by Lenny DellaRocca
Parkland woman leans
|When Lorry Gregory,
70, was told by her doctor that
she had arthritis, she accepted
When he told her she should use
a cane, she did not.
"The canes were awful. I
couldn't do it," she said. The
plain, ordinary, functional cane
was not a hit with Gregory, who
lives with her daughter Lorrae,
So, after seeking the expertise
of orthopedic surgeons, Gregory
started making her own
Bright, colorful, unique and
functional, Gregory's canes are
eye-catching. She became known
as The Cane Lady.
Now with about 100 canes under
her belt, Gregory sells them at
area senior centers.
"There's not a lot of profit in
it," she said. The canes -
glittering, striped, textured
|with shells, hearts,
happy faces, dice, money, blinking
red lights, baubles, foil,
butterflies, flowers, fruit, bows,
cats, dogs, birds, beads and just
about anything else Gregory can
her hands on - are made of wood.
Each of them usually honor a
theme like Christmas, Halloween,
Las Vegas, Israel, the Fourth of
Gregory began by cutting the
wood herself with a saw, but has
since let someone else do that
She paints, glues, drills and
decorates all of them herself.
Her home-based business isn't
exactly Microsoft right now, but
Gregory enjoys making
Martha Kessinger, resident
Services director at St Andrews
Estates South, an independent
living facility told Gregory in
a letter, " Your cane collection
is incredible...I know the
residents... were pleased to see
that canes do not have to be the
& ABLE: Lorry
Gregory of Parkland displays
just a few of her many
glittering canes she amkes
So far, Gregory has sold about
20 canes. She usually gets
orders when people see hers.
"I took one with me on a cruise
and people marveled." she
When not making canes, Gregory
works for her daughter who has a
Test & Balance business in
Gregory is a retired tennis
cane of a different color?
Call THE CANE
||CORAL SPRINGS - PARKLAND FORUM
by Amy Ward
|Parkland women makes walking more
Lorry Gregory is walking her way to high
fashion, one step at a time.
The Parkland resident was diagnosed with
arthritis several years ago, but when told to use
a typical walking cane to get around the
74-year-old fashion diva knew that simply wasn’t
going to happen.
“They’re these ugly brown chrome things, they’re
terrible,” she said.
Creative juices flowing, she soon stepped into a
solution. Within weeks, she was handcrafting her
own fashionable walking canes, in every color and
theme imaginable. From butterflies to glitter, to
rainbows to reptiles, this artist brought forth
her own wrist-held Renaissance.
“My daughter bought me a fancy cane, that’s where
I got the idea,” she said.
“Now, I change canes like I change purses or
And whenever Gregory was in public, someone would
marvel at her stylish walking sticks and inquire
where to find them. As a result, she started
making them for others.
When she was featured in Women’s World magazine,
her canes’ popularity exploded.
“As a result, people have called from all over,”
Now in her office hangs an official map of the
U.S., thumb-tacked with every sales she’s made
across the country. From Washington state to D.C.,
from Texas to Montana, the chic senior has
improved the fashion sense of hundreds of people.
“People tell me all the time they’re so disgusted
with the regular canes,” she said. “It’s so
depressing to see people hobbling along on those
ugly things. These help them perk up a little bit.
I know it helped me and now, I get to make others
Gregory said most of her clients suffer from
arthritis and multiple sclerosis, but anyone
suffering from a motion disability can enjoy the
effects of her colorful canes.
“The comment I get the most is that instead of
looking at their affliction they’re looking at
their cane and saying ‘Oh how cute and fun;’
that’s what people have told me.”
Gregory’s creative construction process begins
with a personalized idea inspired by the likes and
loves of each particular customer. Some of the
decorative designs she’s done throughout the years
include a Budweiser cane, a tropical aquarium
themed cane, foot ball and baseball canes, a Jack
Daniels cane, and even a Southern Bell telephone
cane. “A man had recently retired from Southern
Bell and wanted a phone cane," she said. "So I
just found all kinds of Southern Bell signs and
phone items like cables and cords and stuff."
Gregory said when it comes to finding the things
that make her cans one of kind, there can be some
real searching involved.
When you're looking for something like cows or
frogs, you have to do a lot legwork," she
said. "Everyone has their own ideas,"
Coral Springs resident Kim Kelleher heard about
Gregory's canes and immediately thought of her
69-year-old grandmother up north.
"Actually, my grandmother's favorite thing
was frogs, so Lorry, I don't know how she
did it, but she came up with all these frog
figurines and stickers," Kelleher said. "I
was a little skeptical at first... but when I saw
it, it was just totally awesome. It's a
constant reminder to my grandmother that I'm
always with her. That's the best thing about
"She absolutely loved it, and she's the
talk of her retirement town. I've visited
her since then and everybody wanted one."
When Gregory's not making canes, you can probably
find her in her "Cane Lady" golf cart, which a man
decorated for her for free after finding out she
had given a few of her canes away to needy
The canes sell for about $45, to cover the
cost of materials and just some of the time spent
on creating them. One can can take hours,
The canes are also therapeutic for her.
Her 25-year-old daughter was murdered several
years ago, and the canes help keep her moving in
more ways than one.
"It's just something you never get over,
so this keeps my mind busy so you don't think
about things. It's good therapy for me," she
For information or to see some samples of
Gregory's canes, visit www.canelady.net
or call her studio at 352 750-2316 or 954-254-4581.
She can also be reached via e-mail at