Ed Lantzer was a very complex, yet simple man. When he was young, scarlet fever severely affected part of his brain making it almost impossible for him to write. Instead, he relied on his ability to read and to learn through symbolism and numbers, which his mother taught him at a young age.
His father taught him marquetry – the craft of covering a wood base with small pieces of wood to form patterns or pictures. As he honed this skill, he had no idea how it would impact his life, or the lives of others to come.
Ed led a turbulent life. Blamed for the death of his baby brother, his mother accused him of being incapable of love. This label stayed with Ed, along with being bullied at school and enduring an unspeakable act when he was a boy. He became an outcast, a lost soul in a big world.
Yet despite his inadequacies, Ed met and married his high school sweetheart, Jean. They had eight children together and Ed did his best to try and make a home for them. He worried, though, that he wouldn't be able to show them love, so he would leave for long periods of time to find work and would send money home to Jean and the kids to get by. He learned the carpentry trade and came back to Kalkaska to build houses and he experienced great success. But he kept hearing that voice inside telling him he was no good and that he couldn't love.
His life spiraled downward from there. Having uncontrollable outbursts and feelings of rage, he and Jean fought terribly and ended up divorcing. He checked himself into a mental institution to seek help, which he found for a short time. But when he was released, he had no home or family to go home to. He decided that the best thing to do was to go far away so he wouldn't hurt anyone again.
Homeless and unemployed, Ed found work in Orlando and it was during this time that he became awakened to the call from God to create the panels. He saw the completed panels in his mind before the work was even begun, and he never sketched the panels – the biblical scenes were pre-assembled only in his brain. Quitting his job, he devoted the rest of his life to bringing God's message of love to life in the panels.
Ed lived out his last year of life in Petoskey Michigan. He greeted visitors and gave tours of the panels regularly at his private gallery. Ed was committed to offering free admission to the exhibit. He felt strongly that everyone should have the opportunity to experience this work, regardless of their financial means. The panels are not for sale - Lantzer’s wish was that somehow his work may benefit unloved children whether it be spiritually, financially or artistically.
On December 29th 2009, Ed succumbed to cancer. Before passing, Ed had the opportunity to experience abundant love, respect and dignity. Ed’s ultimate desire was to hear his heavenly father tell him, “Well done”.