It’s going to be monumental

Posted Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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About the Artist Kelly Graham

Sculptor Kelly Graham and his wife, Donna, have resided in Weatherford for more than 15 years, where he sculpts works in progress at his 100-acre spread.

 “It’s always neat to do something like this when it’s honoring someone local. The fact that it is Larry Hagman makes it even that more special,” Kelly Graham.

 His studio is designed to give him ample opportunity to study and capture each life-size horse he portrays. Kelly's clients have given him that opportunity by actually leaving the animal that is being depicted in clay at his studio for months. He is very proud of his portrait sculpture of some of the most famous horses in the business.

Other projects funded with the help of Civic Development:

• Weatherford Public Library

• Doss Heritage and Culture Center

 *To donate call: First Financial Bank, Weatherford, 76086 at 817-598-2500

Account # 83110037070, Hagman Memorial

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The site has been established, funds are in the bank, now it's just a matter of time.

Since the passing of television icon Larry Hagman, forces have been working behind the scenes to honor the late actor for what he meant not only to his adoring fans but, most importantly, to the Parker County community he held so dear.

After his death a little more than a year ago, close friend Sherry O. Watters, owner of Something Special Boutique, said she felt the need to "pay tribute" to the man that became famous for the character he played - J.R. Ewing - on the hit television show Dallas.

"He was so good to Weatherford and really good to me and my business over the years," Watters said. “Larry graduated from Weatherford High in 1949 so he was one of Weatherford’s favorite sons.”

Watters took to social media following Hagman's passing, posting on Facebook that something needed to be done to honor him.

"Maybe a statue, some type of signage, perhaps a street," Watters said.

Then, close friend Donna Tillman approached her and offered to assist her in her efforts. Soon a committee was born comprised not only of Watters and Tillman, but of other women - Jamie Bodiford, DiAnn Towson and Marsha Brown - that later came to be known as the Hagman Memorial Committee. Tillman then suggested they meet with the Weatherford City Council for their thoughts.

“At that point, word got out about the committee’s efforts making our efforts go viral with media outlets getting on the bandwagon," Watters said, which added to the public awareness.

That's what she had hoped for and that's when a non-profit organization known as Civic Development stepped in and offered its help.

"Civic Development approached me and offered their support, which was a God send, and I thought 'awesome' because I didn't know how to make this happen,” Watters explained. “They stepped in and I literally cried."

After numerous discussions, all parties settled on a bronze statue to be placed on the grounds of the Doss Heritage and Culture Center.

Now, 14 months later, Dr. Fred Ryles, Chairman of the Board for Civic Development, said the organization is ready to cut the first check to artist and sculpture Kelly Graham for the monument.

"It's going to take six to seven months for completion," Ryles said. "We're shooting for November, around Thanksgiving, near the anniversary of his passing."

The statue will be 6-foot-1 - Hagman’s original height - and mounted on a small platform at a cost of $70,000. It will also have his autograph on the base of the statue along with the date of his birth and death, Sept. 21, 1931- Nov. 23, 2012.

"Location was the biggest challenge," Ryles said. "We wanted it visible and appropriately taken care of. We finally concluded we could find that place on the Doss grounds."

Ironically, the Civic Development group raised the money in 2001 for the construction of the Doss, which opened its doors in 2006. In attendance at the opening was none other than Hagman himself.

Ryles said Civic Development couldn't have made this happen if not for the efforts of Roy Grogan, and that donations have come in from as far away as Sweden.

Watters said she would like to plan a gala to coincide with the unveiling of the statue.

"It's exciting," Watters said. "We'd like to have the cast of Dallas attending and a lot of the people that knew him there too. During Larry’s Memorial, [actress and co-star with Hagman on Dallas] Linda Gray did tell me she would be here for the unveiling.”

Watters added that she felt this would help with tourism locally and be good for the Doss as well.

"It will be excellent for the city and the chamber, but very bittersweet," Watters said.

Lance Winter, 817-594-9902, Ext. 102 Twitter: @Lancewinter

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