Bobby DeBlieux memorialized in Bronze; Part 2 in a series

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Bobby DeBlieux, right, receives the Mayor’s Award from then Mayor Wayne McCullen

Sculptor Larry Crowder visited Natchitoches several times and on one of those visits he met with Mayor Lee Posey. “By wonderful coincidence, the NHDDC was to meet that afternoon and I attended,” Crowder said. “Then on Oct. 2, 2014, Payne Williams, representing the NHDDC, called to offer the commission for Dr. John Sibley’s bust.” Crowder worked from a painting of Sibley and during work on that project, Crowder said the possibility of a bust of DeBlieux came up.

“His daughters, Cammie Davis and Dené Mathies, both of Baton Rouge were consulted and together we came up with the period for Bobby’s sculpture,” he said. “When doing a bust, I like to portray the person at their peak, but Bobby was so well known for several decades which created a unique issue. His daughters and I decided on the period when he was mayor, around 1976-80. They provided photos from that time period, including a copy of the one that hangs in the mayor’s office today.” Davis and Mathies viewed the clay bust and approved it in February 2017. Crowder briefly described the sculpting process.

Larry Crowder’s first bust for Natchitoches was of St. Denis. The caption for this photo reads: Natchitoches welcomed visitors Friday evening for the unveiling of the bronze bust of Louis Juchereau de St. Denis and dedication of St. Denis Fountain Plaza near the Chamber of Commerce. Ceremonies featured representatives of the Canadian Government and a delegation from Beauport, Quebec, the birthplace of St. Denis. Participating were, from left, sculptor Larry D. Crowder, Historian-Artist Irma Sompayrac Williard, St. Denis Foundation, Inc. President Sudie M. Lawton and Natchitoches Mayor Joe Sampite. The middle photo shows the plaque given to Natchitoches by Beauport while the bottom photo shows those attending the ceremonies,
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“Using those photos as reference, I sculpted the bust in clay in my home studio. The clay (plastaline) doesn’t harden, and is fragile. The sculpture isn’t moved until it is taken to the foundry for casting.

That process includes making the mold, which is a rubber lined plaster shell. Molten wax is poured in and allowed to harden. The shell is removed and the wax is dipped in a ceramic solution then the wax is melted out leaving a shell. Bronze is poured in and then a patina is created on the bronze. The process takes three-five months in most cases. A bronze is never solid, it is three-eighths inch thick and hollow. This is for longevity.”

“I tried to convey not only his image, but his personality. I wanted it to come across that he had a very warm, open, happy personality. It was a blessing to sculpt my friend, but I also realized it was an obligation. He was well known in Natchitoches and I had to capture him in the right manner,” Crowder said. He also had a hand in designing the pedestal. Plaques providing a biography will also be unveiled Nov. 10. “We had to have the patina right on this one. If it was too dark it would have his face in shadow since the sunlight would be to the back of the bust most of the day. I hope it honors Bobby’s legacy.”

Crowder also created the bust for Dr. Sam Sibley that stands at the corner of Jefferson Street and the Keyser Avenue bridge. This article appeared in the Nov. 26, 2015 edition. At left, Mayor Lee Posey, Director of Interpretation at Can River National Heritage Area Steve Fuller and Crowder unveiled the bust Nov. 14. The center photo shows Crowder’s daughter, Nicole, and his wife, Tracie. The photo at right features Whitley Perryman, Barry Simmons and Jack Sibley and Virginia Perryman honoring their ancestor at the unveiling.