Crews install bust of former governor in garden named for him

Julie Smith/News Tribune photo: Aaron Carrender, left, looks closely at which way Nate Conner needs to adjust the lifesize bronze bust of Mel Carnahan onto its base. The bust of the two-term Missouri governor was installed Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023, onto a base that was placed two weeks ago in the northeast corner of the Governor's Garden in Jefferson City. The garden was renamed Carnahan Memorial Garden following the death of Carnahan, who was killed in a plane crash on October 16, 2000, while campaigning on for a congressional seat.

A bust of late Gov. Mel Carnahan now overlooks a garden on the State Capitol grounds that bears his name.

Crews installed the hollow, life-size, bronze bust Wednesday in Carnahan Memorial Garden.

Jamie Anderson, who cast the Missouri Children's Fountain, which stands outside the Missouri Governor's Mansion front door, completed the bust several years ago.

The bust stands atop two blocks of red granite, which feature a plaque on the front. The plaque identifies the bust as Gov. Mel Carnahan, and states that he served as governor from 1993 to 2000. It includes a quote: "I am still enough of an idealist to believe that public service is a calling worthy of our lives."

Lucy Sutcliffe, who helped coordinate development of the bust, said supporters "had the bust for a while" before her husband identified the piece of granite the bust would rest on.

"It took several months to actually get it up here," Sutcliffe said, citing inclement weather during the 2021 winter season as a main factor for the delay.

Once the slab was brought up from Rolla, Sutcliffe said, it was sent to Earthworks in Ste. Genevieve to cut "a good flat surface for the other rock to adhere to."

Beth Pike, who also helped with the bust, said the project has been in the works for about five years, but was put on pause during the pandemic.

Pike said the memorial's granite matches the red granite of the Governor's Mansion columns, and also originates from Rolla, home of the Carnahan family farm.

Sutcliffe said the project "started picking up speed" when Dale Cassmeyer, deputy director of design and construction for the Missouri Office of Administration, joined the project. The office helped determine exactly where to place the artwork.

Cassmeyer said it required a crane to move the granite to the memorial's final destination.

Pike said former U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan, the former governor's widow, is the one who got the project going.

"It was something the senator wished to have," Pike said.

Sutcliffe is "thrilled" and "very appreciative" to get the bust placed in the garden.

"I think it only be appropriate that he be recognized in the Governor's garden," Sutcliffe said.

Pike is "excited to see this because it was a long process."

The bust was funded privately through the Carnahan family.

Sutcliffe said organizers are in the process of planning a dedication event for Carnahan's bust.