Two Wilsonites will receive the Jim Miller Artistic and Cultural Award at the 2013 Wilson Historical Society/Museum Annual Recognition Dinner.
Randy Hacker and Sherry Gray will be honored at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Lee/Chamber of Commerce Building. Hacker will be honored for the lighted eagle statue he sculpted that is at the east entrance to Wilson from U.S. Highway 70, and Gray will be honored for designing the Wilson city flag that features an eagle in the background with an oil derrick and train engine in the foreground.
The recognition dinner will also feature a continuous slide show presentation of pictures from early Wilson. The slide show was created as part of Wilson's centennial celebration, which runs through Nov. 2, 2014 — which is 100 years from when Wilson was incorporated. In addition, Carole Gandy Pinches, president of the Wilson Historical Society, will speak about the founding and early days of Wilson.
Hacker is a native of Wilson, who for the past 19 years, has worked for the city of Wilson. But as time and money allow, he follows his passion of wood carving and sculpting.
Hacker had done lots of wood carving before he ever thought about getting into sculpturing. But with the JSC bronze foundry located — at that time — on Main Street, he started stopping by to see what his good friends Jim and Sam O'Dell were doing. It was at the foundry that he met Jim Miller, local artist and sculptor, when Miller was having some of his statues cast by the foundry. Further encouragement from Miller, along with the constant support of the O'Dells, started Hacker into sculpting.
Hacker decided to sculpt an eagle. For the eagle to be recognized, he decided to make it big — the eagle has a wing span of 12 feet and weighs more than 1,000 pounds. He started the process at his house, but it quickly became too big, so the O'Dells allowed him to finish the eagle at their foundry. From start to finish, the eagle took almost four years.
The eagle was unveiled on March 24, 2006, at its present site, followed by a ceremony and luncheon at Wilson High School. Since then, the lighted eagle has stood as a proud symbol of Wilson and its heritage.
Gray attributes her interest in drawing to her junior high school art teacher in Ringling. According to her, "those art classes were more complex and inspiring" than any art classes she had while attending college.
When her mother-in-law saw the announcement about the Wilson Historical Society's city flag contest, she encouraged Gray to enter. Being a native of Ringling, she had to ask her husband Zane, who was born and raised in Wilson, what he thought would best describe Wilson. His reply: "the railroad, oil and the eagle."
Gray submitted her entry and began the waiting process. At some point, she assumed someone else had won and was excited that Wilson would have a city flag, no matter who had won.
After dismissing it from her mind, she received a call asking her to make a few adjustments to her drawing. She was surprised to realize the contest wasn't over and she still had a chance of winning. Before long, another call announced her as the winner. Never having drawn a flag before, she was quite surprised, but very honored to have her design chosen.
The Jim Miller Award was established in 2010 when Miller was recognized for his outstanding contributions to preserving the heritage of Oklahoma and the Southwest.