Pubanz puzzles people — but in a good way

Artist’s puzzles donated to Gresham Scholarship Fund for annual fundraiser
Nicole Hixson

Len Pubanz is a man of many talents and interests.

In his free time, he enjoys carpentry. His most well-known projects are undoubtedly his homemade wooden puzzles. Designed and handcrafted by Pubanz, these puzzles are logic based and inherent brain teasers. They are a mixture of education, art and fun that are based on patterns he has seen in nature.

“I’m an old biologist and nature lover,” Pubanz said. “I started the puzzle thing five years before COVID. I copied nature to get this idea. It popped in my head in 1991 when I was looking at a flower. I thought that that flower was such a great design and I was playing with wood at the same time. So, I started to put some puzzles together by looking at the flower. I keep myself occupied by making these in the winter and then I give most of them away.”

As a volunteer in local schools, he has used the wooden puzzles as an effective teaching aid. In that role, he was able to teach math skills and logic to young learners in a fun way that resonated with the students.

“I taught a little math and a little biology and a little creativity,” Pubanz said. “Students should learn creativity. Use this puzzle as a teaching tool because it really is.”

It would seem only natural that his love for teaching, community service and his puzzles would coalesce. By designing and creating wooden logic puzzles that are a natural teaching tool, he has found a way to help the community.

By donating the wooden puzzles to charitable organizations, the funds from the sales can be used to help causes important to him. He most recently donated a pair of wooden puzzles to the Gresham Scholarship Fund, which provided over 200 scholarships exceeding over $280,000 in financial assistance to help students afford college.

“I really admire the Gresham community, the Gresham School District and the scholarship fund because it shows support for education,” Pubanz said. “If the community shows support, the students do better, the teachers are more enthusiastic and I think that the parents become more involved. I would want to help them in any way I can.”

In order to provide the scholarships, the fund holds a dinner where donated items are auctioned and raffled off. This year’s event will be held on March 25 at The Woodland Supper Club and Banquet Hall, 420 Main St., Gresham. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6 p.m.

“I really want to encourage people to come,” Pubanz said. “They have a committee that’s really worked hard and it’s kind of a celebration and a fundraiser at the same time. There will be a tremendous abundance of things that are going to be auctioned off and raffled, and people have donated many things. There are over one hundred different items. This is just an exciting way to take home a treasure. It’s a fun event and I am sure people will enjoy it.”

The public is welcome to attend to support the scholarship fund and for a chance to get one of the puzzles. Tickets must be purchased in advance by calling 715-787-3386 by March 18.

Pubanz, a former Shawano Community High School biology teacher, has also been heavily involved over the years in supporting various community service organizations and is well known for his environmental activism.

Pubanz is a former recipient of the Shawano Community Service Award, an annual recognition from the Shawano Area Community Foundation. He has supported other causes including the Shawano Miles of Art Tour, the Shawano Farmers Market, building and donating Little Free Libraries, and many other civic-minded activities.

His environmental activism has been seen in his efforts to protect the Wolf River, going so far as to affect legislation.