Weatherford group raising money for Hagman statue

Posted Friday, Mar. 15, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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WEATHERFORD -- Dallas said goodbye to J.R. Ewing on Monday night with a tearful funeral for the TV show's star and world-famous bad guy in a cowboy hat.

The next night, an organizer of the Larry Hagman Memorial Committee told the Weatherford City Council that the group is moving forward with plans to place a life-size statue of the actor in Heritage Park.

Hagman died Nov. 23 at 81 after filming started on the second season of the rebooted Dallas, the series he dominated as the conniving J.R. The role made him an international star during its 14 seasons in the 1980s.

Hagman's mother, musical theater star Mary Martin, was a Weatherford native, and he lived here several years, graduating from Weatherford High School in 1949.

After his death, Weatherford businesswoman Sherry Watters helped organize the memorial committee.

Heritage Park seems like the best place for a statue, Watters said Tuesday at the council meeting. "We want the memorial to stay outside where people could see it." The park is at the corner of Fort Worth Highway and Santa Fe Drive in central Weatherford.

The statue is expected to cost $70,000, she told the council. Weatherford sculptor Kelly Graham has been chosen to create the statue "since he is local and we can see changes," she said.

Graham will start as soon as the money is raised.

Actress Linda Gray, Hagman's co-star on Dallas, "assured me that she will come to the unveiling," Watters said.

The possibility of getting a state historical marker recognizing Hagman has been suggested.

Harold Lawrence, chairman of the Parker County Historical Commission, said: "The good news is, it is feasible. The bad news is there cannot be a marker established through the state for 10 years [after a person's death]. At the end of 10 years, you can apply for a marker, and it's pretty automatic."

Lawrence pointed out that Martin has been dead for more than 10 years.

"When it comes time to apply for the marker, the historical commission will be there to help you," he said.

Councilman Craig Swancy said he supports the Hagman memorial but said the community ought not to forget other significant Weatherford residents.

"I think it would be wise to have a section devoted to the pioneers," he said.

Swancy ticked off names including legendary folklorist John Lomax, who taught at Weatherford College in the late 1890s; and Weatherford natives Gen. Hood Simpson and James Leslie "Hippo" Vaughan, a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs in 1913-20. He mentioned former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright, artist Douglas Chandor, and legendary cattlemen and cowboys Charles Goodnight, Oliver Loving and Bose Ikard.

"It's amazing when you start doing research, how many famous people are from Weatherford," Swancy said. "I can't think of a place that would be more visible than Heritage Park."

Lance Winter,

817-594-9902,

ext. 102

Twitter: @LanceWinter

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