For anyone who knew him, the mere mention of Otto Schoepfle conjures up images of the short-statured, bowtie-wearing, bespectacled businessman who was the longtime president and chairman of the board of The Chronicle-Telegram as well as an avid gardener.
Now, those that didn’t know him will have their own vision of him, as he will be memorialized this autumn with a life-size bronze sculpture at the 70-acre garden that bears his name.
“It’s a wonderful tribute to Otto for the gift he gave to the community to have a likeness of him the garden,” said Joel Loufman, staff horticulturist at the Schoepfle Garden in Birmingham.
Schoepfle made arrangements in 1969 with the Lorain County Metro Parks to give his land and home for establishment of a park in exchange for a life lease as a “tenant,” according to Loufman.
The lands and house, which border the Vermilion River, were turned over to the park district when Schoepfle passed away in October 1992.
The bronze sculpture will be formally dedicated during a ceremony slated for Oct. 6, according to Jim Ziemnik, executive director of the Metro Parks.
“We just made the determination about this in the past 48 hours,” Ziemnik said.
The sculpture is being crafted by Zanesville artist Alan Cottrill, who owns and operates a 17,000-square-foot facility in downtown Zanesville.
Cottrill’s works has included figures of soldiers, fishermen and laborers, as well as busts of historic figures including Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and Leonardo Da Vinci.
The sculpture of Schoepfle was commissioned through donations, Ziemnik said.
“We’ve been talking about this for five years,” Ziemnik said, noting discussions between longtime parks director Dan Martin and Loufman had been ongoing for some time.
“Dan personally wanted to make sure this got done,” Ziemnik said.
Loufman wanted to have a full-size likeness of Schoepfle.
“He felt that was a very fitting honor to Otto,” Loufman said.
Both men said the timing of the dedication was more of a coincidence than a conscious effort to schedule the event for the same month as Schoepfle’s death in 1992.
“It just happens that it’s 20 years later and we’re putting it in,” Loufman said. “Our No. 1 priority is to give Otto Schoepfle appropriate recognition for this wonderful gift.”
Cottrill worked from photos and height and weight figures provided by parks officials, Loufman said.
“I’ve made a couple of trips down there to check on the progress, and I’ve been really pleased with it,” Loufman said. “We showed him a bunch of photos (of Schoepfle) that expressed different facial expressions. He captured something. It’s a very good likeness.”
In line with the park district’s mission to look for ways to keep improving its facilities, Ziemnik said officials are always looking for opportunities to expand existing park sites, including Schoepfle Garden.
“We know there are more property owners who potentially may come our way,” Ziemnik said. “They know we’re interested and when the opportunities present themselves, we’ll look to expand.”
The park’s master plan includes areas for future expansion of the botanical gardens and natural woodland that features collections of rhododendrons, roses, cannas, hostas, shade plants and varieties of shrubs, topiaries and trees.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or email@example.com.