Tramel: Harold Holden's statue honors the men lost in the Oklahoma State plane crash
In 2001, Harold Holden was asked to create a memorial to honor those killed when a plane carrying 10 members of the Oklahoma State University basketball program crashed in Colorado. Holden's kneeling cowboy has become a symbol of mourning for the university and the state.
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But Holden said his kneeling cowboy remains the piece that means the most to him. And here's the story why.
When Birdwell asked Holden to make a monument, Holden thought about the grieving families.
He didn't have to wonder how they felt.
A few months earlier, Holden's five-day-old grandson, Patrick Martin Meyer, died at Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City.
Doctors had detected a heart defect during Shannon Meyer's pregnancy. They didn't think the baby would live. But Patrick was born big, more than seven pounds.
“He looked healthy,” Holden said.
Five days into his life, Patrick Meyer died. Shannon Meyer called her father with the news. And there, in his ranch house five miles north of Enid, Harold Holden dropped to his knees in agony.
Holden thought of that day when Harry Birdwell told him what OSU wanted.
“That's probably the way they feel,” Holden said.
And so he sketched the cowboy that reminds us all of a terrible loss.
“He's in sorrow,” Holden said quietly. “That's what I felt like when I was on my knees. I kind of felt how those people felt.”
Like many an artist, Holden is never completely pleased with his work. He finds things he wishes he had done differently.
But he feels good about his creation that sits in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“People connected with the families, it really hit ‘em hard,” Holden said. “They've thanked me for it.”
That kneeling cowboy warms their hearts. Warms its creator's heart, too.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.
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