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Classical 101

Columbus Sculptor Honors Ohio Aviation Pioneer Jerrie Mock

Columbus sculptor Renate Burgyan Fackler holds maquette, or small statue, of aviation pioneer Jerrie Mock, presented to each Spirit of Columbus Award winner.
Jennifer Hambrick
Columbus sculptor Renate Burgyan Fackler holds maquette, or small statue, of aviation pioneer Jerrie Mock, presented to each Spirit of Columbus Award winner.

1964: The Beatles skyrocketed to stardom on the Ed Sullivan Show. Doctor Strangelove won the Oscar for Best Picture. The St. Louis Cardinals beat the New York Yankees for the World Series pennant. And Ohioan Jerrie Mock became the first woman to fly solo around the world.

Mock named her single-engine Cessna the Spirit of Columbus, after Columbus, Ohio, where her historic flight began on March 19 and ended on April 17. A native of Newark, Ohio, Mock knew from a tender age that she wanted to fly. And her dream came true in an era when women were striving to gain parity with their male counterparts in the professional realm.

News of Jerrie Mock’s historic flight was eclipsed by other headlines in the turbulent 1960s. But her legacy as an aviator lives on in the history books and in Columbus sculptor Renate Burgyan Fackler’s life-size bronze sculptures of herlocated at Columbus’ John Glenn International Airport and at The Works in Newark.

Mock’s legacy also lives on in the Columbus Foundation’s Spirit of Columbus Award. The award is given each year on April 17 to a Columbus resident who, according to the Columbus Foundation, represents “the true spirit of our community.”

This year’s Spirit of Columbus recipients are Joanna M. Pinkerton, president and CEO of the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) and the entire COTA organization. Just before the April 18 award ceremony, Columbus Foundation President and CEO Doug Kridler described COTA as “an organization committed to connecting folks in our community with their jobs, places and services, with the goal of moving every life forward in our community.”

“The award goes to all at COTA who have helped us through these past two tumultuous years,” Kridler said.

Joanna M. Pinkerton receives The Columbus Foundation’s 2022 Spirit of Columbus Award:

Recent recipients include Save the Crew (2019), former Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton and all of Ohio’s healthcare workers and first responders (2020) and “Food Soldier” Roshelle Pate (2021), who since 2015 has organized food giveaways and other community service events around Columbus.

In addition to the prestige of the award, each Spirit of Columbus Award winner takes home a maquette, or small statue, of Jerrie Mock.

Fackler also made those small bronze statues in a complex and fascinating process similar to how she cast her life-size statues. Watch a demonstration in this segment of WOSU TV’s Broad & High:

Fackler says she has cast 15 or 20 maquettes from the same mold, but like the Spirit of Columbus Award recipients themselves, each one is unique.

“(Each maquette) comes out of the same mold, but no two are alike,” Fackler said. “All the facial features are resculpted. All the fingers, her wedding ring. So, none of them are identical to each other.”

And like the contributions of the Spirit of Columbus Award winners, Fackler’s bronze maquettes also will endure.

“I have a particular fondness for bronze because it lasts forever,” Fackler said. “And I’m very pleased that these sculptures are in bronze because I’m pleased to know that long after I’m gone, they’ll still be here.”

Learn more here about Jerrie Mock’s legendary career in this 2014 feature from Broad & High.

Jennifer Hambrick unites her extensive backgrounds in the arts and media and her deep roots in Columbus to bring inspiring music to central Ohio as Classical 101’s midday host. Jennifer performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago before earning a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.