Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Life-Size Likeness of Bennett Comes to Hemming Plaza

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Life-Size Likeness of Bennett Comes to Hemming Plaza

Article excerpt

Byline: Jessie-Lynne Kerr, The Times-Union

A life-size cast bronze statue of the late U.S. Rep. Charles E. Bennett, who served the people of Northeast Florida in Congress for 44 years, was installed on a granite base in a shady corner of Hemming Plaza

Thursday morning.

The downtown Jacksonville statue will be unveiled at a public ceremony at 5 p.m. Friday, April 23, according to Property Appraiser Jim Overton. He and former City Council President Matt Carlucci were the moving force in getting city funds to pay for the $137,000 monument to the man known as "Mr. Clean" because of his concern for ethics.

Bennett died Sept. 6 at age 92, and his ashes were interred with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery near a dogwood tree and the graves of Civil War soldiers. The Hemming Plaza statue is near the Confederate monument given to the city in 1898 by Charles C. Hemming.

It took the sculptor, William F. Duffy of Baltimore, and a crew and crane from the James D. Hinson Electrical Contracting Co. several hours to get the 500-pound statue erected on the base made of Dakota mahogany granite quarried in Elberton, Ga.

One of the photographs Duffy said he used when sculpting the statue was of Bennett standing by the figure of humorist Will Rogers in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall taken by Times-Union photographer Bob Self during the final days of Bennett's tenure in Congress in 1993.

"Except for the eyeglasses," Duffy said. "He didn't want his statue to have glasses."

Duffy met with Bennett twice, once before the congressman suffered a debilitating stroke in October 2002.

"When I first met Mr. Bennett at his home, I asked him how he wanted to be depicted," Duffy said.

Bennett wanted to be standing with his two canes, which he used since a bout with polio, crossed in front of him. In addition to wanting the sculpture to be eyeglass-free, Bennett requested the motto "In God We Trust" be inscribed on the base.

Widely regarded as one of Jacksonville's most trusted public servants, Bennett sponsored legislation that required the motto be displayed on all coins and currency. He also sponsored legislation to create the House Ethics Committee and served as its first chairman. …

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