By Kevin McClintock
JOPLIN, Mo. — An 80-pound metal sculpture honoring the victims, volunteers and rescuers from the 2011 tornado is a gift from a Crocker teenager to the residents of Joplin.
Sawyer Brown, a 2012 Crocker High School graduate, was on hand Thursday at Joplin City Hall to present the sculpture to Assistant City Manager Sam Anselm.
“I wanted to do something memorable (for Joplin) since I had family down here and it was such a tragic time,” Brown said.
The sculpture shows a ringed tornado atop a Missouri-shaped base decorated with stars mostly representing the people who were killed. Atop the tornado are four engraved stars, representing volunteers, police officers, firefighters and emergency medical responders.
The sculpture is titled “Gone But Not Forgotten.”
With help from Alex Neuman, welding instructor at nearby Waynesville High School, Brown sketched out and created the sculpture during a metal shop class at the Waynesville Career Center, where Neuman also works.
“Sawyer came to me, and we dreamed it up and kicked it around,” Neuman said.
Using a plasma welder and computer-assisted design software for the drawing, Sawyer went through two trial runs before he perfected the look.
“When he built it, the purpose was to give it to Joplin as a gift, out of respect for the people of Joplin,” Neuman said.
This past spring, Brown entered the sculpture in the Skills USA competition in Kansas City and took second in the state challenge.
“He’s a great kid,” Neuman said of Brown. “I can’t say enough about him. He’s truly a great kid.”
Traveling two hours with Brown and Neuman to make the presentation Thursday were members of Brown’s family, including his parents and sister. Crocker is a town of about 1,000 people near Waynesville and Fort Leonard Wood.
“It’s a beautiful piece of artwork,” Anselm said. “We’ve been blessed ... at all the artwork that’s sprung up around town — the Spirit Tree on 20th Street, the murals along Main. It’s been inspiring to see the outpouring of love from literally around the world.”
Want to see it?
SAWYER BROWN’S SCULPTURE will temporarily be displayed on the ground floor of City Hall, 602 S. Main St. Eventually, it will be displayed in the proposed Joplin tornado museum, though Assistant City Manager Sam Anselm said that project is a few years down the road.