On Wednesday, Sept. 27, Jim Walstrom’s Wall of Witnesses addition was unveiled to the public during an intimate ceremony. During the unveiling, it was revealed that Walstrom was the first male living recipient to receive the award, making the sculpting experience much different than previous years.
“Well I have so much respect for Rick [Stewart, sculptor],” said Jim Walstrom about the experience. “He just poured his heart and soul and he wanted to know me as a human being.”
The duo spent six to eight sessions together, lasting as long as two hours each time.
“About to two to three hours into it I said, ‘Wow, that’s great, we’re done!’ and oh no, not Rick,” Walstrom laughed. “He could not leave it alone - he’s a phenomenal artist.”
Artist Rick Stewart has been commissioned to work for the project in the past, but typically was only able to work from a provided photograph of a past nominee.
“When Bill [Clark] told me I was going to have a live person to work from I was just so happy,” joked Rick Stewart, Wall of Witness sculptor. “It’s hard working from just a photograph to get a notion - you can stare at a photograph forever and it’s pretty one-sided.”
The sessions allowed the duo to learn more about one another, as well as bring the artwork to life.
“He let me go ahead and poke his face while sculpting so I could get a sense,” Stewart explained. Tactile memory is amazing; oftentimes what I’ll do is close my eyes so you’re not inhibited by sight.”
Through his time spent working with Walstrom, the duo were able to develop a friendship.
“He’s one of those people that in meeting him and being with him for an hour, it was like I’d been with him my whole life,” Stewart said. “You meet people like that periodically and you know who they are, you know what they like, and this was exactly that.”
Many joined the celebration of Walstrom, including Perry Mayor Jay Pattee.
“Jim never stopped working for Perry no matter what he did, if he was the Chamber Director, if he was the Rec Director, we can name all of those events that he did, all of the things he accomplished during that time, and even after he was done being the Chamber Director, I don’t think that’s the most remarkable thing about Jim Walstrom,” Mayor Pattee said.
“I think the most remarkable thing is the way that he interacts with people; I’ve got to tell ya, this is a good friend and he’s good with people.”
Walstrom touched on his recognition in front of the audience, paying tribute to the friendships he’s created in Perry as well as the shock of being a recipient.
“I have probably not had a whole lot of sleep since Jeanette [Peddicord, President of the Perry Historical Commission] called me and told me I was the recipient,” Walstrom gushed. “I had a high school friend who said we have an obligation to encourage each other and these organizations I feel encourage us to be the most we can be.”
Walstrom thanked the community for their friendship.
“Today I want to say thank you to all of you wonderful people; the things that I have learned from you - this Perry thing has just been terrific and I just want to say thank you to you people, to the community we moved into, and the community we have now.”
The new addition to the Wall of Witnesses is located on Soumas Court in Perry.