Posted: Sep 17, 2013 2:40 PM by Dan Molloy, KOMU 8 Sports Reporter
Updated: Sep 17, 2013 8:12 PM
SPRINGFIELD - On September 14, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame unveiled a larger-than-life statue of Mizzou's legendary former basketball coach Norm Stewart. The seven-foot bronze figure became the fourth to stand outside the complex, and accompanies 26 bronze busts of Missouri icons ranging from Chiefs great Len Dawson to former Jefferson City High School football coach Pete Adkins. Harry Weber has designed and sculpted every one of these figures.
"It's a tremendous honor, it really is. It's a great responsibility," Weber said. "I have great trepidation sometimes making sure I get it right because these guys have done such wonderful work and led such incredible lives. It's up to me to capture a little bit of that."
Weber, 71, said his first sculpture was a foxhound some 35 years ago, and he has not given up the craft since. He said his love of motion in art is what eventually led him to his career with sports. "I like movement. I did all kinds of animals, dogs and horses for a long time and I figured it would be interesting doing sports figures," Weber said. "Thirty years ago, I did my first baseball player, and now we've probably got 50 or 60 spread across stadiums across the country."
Missouri sports fans have seen Weber's works outside Memorial Stadium in Columbia, where a statue of Don Faurot greets Mizzou football fans atop the north endzone, and outside Busch Stadium and Kauffman Stadium, where statues of team legends stand outside the ballparks.
For his latest project, Weber said he knew he had to incorporate "Stormin' Norman's" signature movements into the piece. The new statue features Stewart pointing a finger and scowling at an imaginary official as he stands up, kicking over his chair in the process. It is this attention to detail and authentic portrayal of movement that has made Weber one of the go-to guys of his industry.
But he said he would not have had that chance without the trust and support of his wife, Anne. "I had a wife that was nice enough to say 'look, this is what you love doing, let's skip what is called the real job and do this for a living,' and we've been doing it for a living now for 30 years or more. It has its ups and downs, but mostly ups."