Memories of youths etched in stone
GLENWOOD SPRINGS The gigantic crane truck from Speedy Heavy Hauling carrying a massive rock slab pulled into the Glenwood Springs Community Centers entrance just as dusk approached Friday night. The centers Spooktacular Halloween carnival was just getting under way. As children, teenagers and parents dressed in a crazy array of costumes excitedly headed for the centers front doors, New Castle sculptor Greg Tonozzi pulled his Dodge truck in close behind, carrying a 2-1/2 ton block of marble sculpted into three childlike figures.It might not have been the best time logistically to unload an artistic installation onto the centers front lawn. Speedy Heavy Haulings general manager Mark Duncomb donated the $180-per-hour truck to the installation effort and this was one of the only times the truck was available. A heavy load lightenedAs Speedy truck operator Maurice Ham backed the enormous truck into position, Mary Lee Labau watched, snapping pictures of the event, and talking with Tonozzi and others who stopped to watch the unloading. Speedys Heavy Hauling is such a family-oriented company, said Labau, who is the companys human resource manager and office administrator. They take care of their people. The statue depicts two boys and a girl, her long hair flowing in the breeze. One boy is reaching down into a pond. The other is hugging the girl. Theyre playing moving around in the outdoors in all different directions, as children do. For Labau, Tonozzis marble sculpture and its deliverance have intimate significance. In August of 1992, Labau, then Mary Lee Wilkinson, was driving her three children and a neighbor boy home from the movies. A drunken driver swerved into the oncoming lane on Highway 6 & 24 just east of Rifle. His truck hit Labaus vehicle head-on, killing her 9-year-old daughter Kelsey Wilkinson, her 3-year-old-son Brian Wilkinson, and their friend, 9-year-old Michael Erickson.Mary Lee and her then-7-year-old son Matthew Wilkinson survived, but suffered multiple, massive injuries to say nothing of the incomprehensible grief such a tragedy invokes.Children playingEleven years have passed since that horrific night. The drunk driver, Gerald Deskins, is serving multiple life sentences in Caon City for the childrens deaths. Labau has remarried. Matthew, now 19, is living in California. Hes a babe magnet, his proud mom said with a little laugh. As Labau watched Ham operate the controls on the crane and lower the statues red rock base onto the centers lawn, she talked quietly. You do learn to cope with it, she said of the losses shes had. Im living so that when I see my kids again, they can be proud of me. Labau said its important to her and to Tonozzi that people enjoy the sculpture.Greg is going to put the childrens names on the sculpture, but were not going to tell the story of what happened, she said. This is about children playing and being together. We want people to come and enjoy that. Unfinished sculpture, like unfinished livesGreg Tonozzi said he waited probably 10 months after the children died in 1992 before he started working on a sculpture to honor their lives.I was good friends with Kelsey, he said, of Labaus 9-year-old, who had Down syndrome. When the other kids would go hiking or something, shed stay back with me. Wed eat Cheetos and get that orange stuff all over our faces and hands. As the childrens sculpture took shape, Tonozzi said, he was heavily influenced by Khalil Gibrans piece, Speak to me of children. He thought of Michelangelos Captive Slave pieces, marble sculptures that looked as if the sculptor had just walked away halfway through chiseling them, leaving forms that appear to be working their way out of the stone. Tonozzi said he moved the childrens marble block outside under an elm tree near his studio.I thought maybe later Id do some more work on it, but the marble turned a natural patina from the drips coming off the elm, he said. If I touched the marble, it would be bright white in the new places. I realized then I was done. It was like nature telling me to stop.Tonozzi said there are plans to install the sculpture permanently at the Community Center. Right now, its sitting on a pair of wooden boards. There may be trees planted to provide a shady spot for people to sit under. Lights may be installed to illuminate it.For Labau, the sculptures new home is the perfect spot.The Community Center is where kids and families come, she said, watching groups of people walking in and out of the center. This is a wonderful place. And this spot is part of that and its serene too.Tonozzi said he hopes the statue helps people remember how precious their children are.I hope the sculpture brings hope and peace, Tonozzi said. You know when you get that wonderful feeling when youve thought of a great idea? Its how children are. I want people to get that feeling when they look at this sculpture. I want it to be about the magic of children playing.Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
New Castle sculptor Greg Tonozzi said Khalil Gibrans piece, Speak to us of children inspired him in creating the marble statue that now sits near the entrance of the Glenwood Springs Community Center. The sculpture honors Kelsey Wilkinson, Brian Wilkinson and Michael Erickson, who were killed by a drunken driver in 1992 near Rifle, and in greater context, for Cody Brickell, Ivy Adler any child who has been lost in a car accident. It seems we sacrifice one or two kids a year here to car accidents, Tonozzi said. And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of children!And he said:They are the sons and daughters of Lifes longing for itself.They come through you but not from you,And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.You may give them your love but not your thoughts,For they have their own thoughts.You may house their bodies but not their souls,For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.You may strive to be like them,but seek not to make them like you.For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
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