Statue will commemorate bank#039;s 100th anniversary

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Many of those who knew

James T. Ramage (Mr. Jim)

have done a double-take in the last few days as they passed First National Bank in Brundidge.

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At a quick glance, the recently erected statue looks "just like him."

"All of those who knew Daddy Jim say the statue looks just like him," said Jimmy Ramage, bank CEO, chairman of the board and great-grandson of the late businessman and community leader.

"First National Bank will celebrate its 100th year in business in 2004 and we wanted to find a lasting way to commemorate this special year in the history of our bank," Ramage said. "Larry and Ronald Godwin are known all over the country for their metal sculptures. We had the idea for them to do a sculpture of 'Daddy Jim' who was the founder of the bank."

Larry Godwin presented a sketch for Ramage's approval and was given the go-ahead.

"Larry drew a sketch of what the sculpture would look like and I've seen his work, so I knew it would be something that we would like," Ramage said. "But, at the same time, I knew it was going to be very unusual."

Godwin said the technique used is a layering of small cut pieces of metal that creates a kind of abstract form based on multiple flat planes.

"It's simply cut out sheets of steel with hard edges that are put together and blended by the eye," he said. "The eye pulls it together. That's what makes it work.

However, when Godwin began work on the face and hands of the figure, he realized that he would not be able to get a good likeness using the abstract technique.

That's when he called on his brother, Ronald, for assistance.

"I knew I could not get a satisfactory likeness using the abstract technique," Godwin said. "So, Ronald agreed to do the head and hands."

Larry, laughingly, said once his brother got involved he couldn't get Mr. Jim back away from him.

"That's the way it is with sculptors and brothers," Godwin said, laughing.

Ronald used a torch welding technique that's like modeling with clay except it's with metal.

"He starts gradually creating a molten surface with a torch," Godwin said. "Very few people can use that technique. It's a process of building up and grinding down. It's a repetitive process. It's very difficult to carve in metal and only a small group of sculptors can handle that technique. Ronald did a pretty excellent job with it."

The limited number of photographs available made it even more difficult to get a likeness of the bank founder.

"Actually, there was only one photograph to work with - the one used for the portrait that hangs in the bank," Godwin said. "There was a photograph of Mr. Ramage when he was a young man, but it was of no help, because it didn't provide a side view. From the photographs it was difficult to get an full-scale likeness of the man."

However, Ramage said the Godwin brothers managed to do just that.

"Everyone says the statue is a good likeness," he said. "From what I'm told, Daddy Jim always wore a hat or had one in his hand. Larry did the figure and he even measured the head so that the hat would be the right size.

"You could put the hat on Daddy Jim's head and it wouldn't wobble a bit. We are very pleased with the statue and it's exactly what we wanted to commemorate our 100th year in business in Brundidge."

The statue will be dedicated in the summer of 2004. Ramage chose the summer of the anniversary year so that all members of the family can attend.

James T. Ramage has one granddaughter, Pat Ramage Johnston, and seven great-grandchildren.