In a peaceful garden between the Governor’s Mansion and the Missouri Capitol now sits a sculpture of the late Gov. Mel Carnahan. The bronze bust of the Democrat was dedicated today in Jefferson City.

“I am still enough of an idealist to believe that public service is a calling worthy of our lives,” is what is etched on a plaque below the statue.

Carnahan served as Missouri’s chief executive officer from 1993-2000.

During a foggy and stormy day on October 16, 2000, the plane he was in crashed in the small eastern Missouri town of Goldman. Carnahan, his son, Randy, and campaign aide Chris Sifford, were all killed.

Carnahan’s bust is 50% larger than life-sized. It appropriately sits in what is called the Carnahan Memorial Garden – an area filled with vibrant flowers and rich grass glistening during the warm days of the year. That’s where family and friends of the Carnahans gathered today for the dedication ceremony.

“This is a special work of art in a beautiful place, honoring Dad’s commitment to public service. It’s an event my mother very much wanted to attend, but she was able to see and enjoy the sculpture and she thought it captured Dad’s passionate sense of purpose,” said the Carnahans’ son, Russ, who welcomed guests to the dedication on behalf of his family. “We are pleased to join so many family friends to share wonderful memories of Dad and Mom and their 46-year partnership. And we hope their shared examples of lives of service will inspire future leaders.”

The sculpture was commissioned by Carnahan’s wife, Jean. It was made by Jamie Anderson, of Rolla, a friend of the Carnahan family for almost 60 years.

Anderson recalled the family visiting her studio. They talked about the way the governor combed his hair and the way he preferred to wear his tie.

“As the work progressed, the sculpture took on a life of its own. Ephemeral memories of Mel’s expressive personality would come to me, and I had to strive to capture them in clay before they faded from my mind’s eye. Gradually, the man I knew all those years ago emerged. A country gentleman. A warm and approachable leader. His calling to serve, evident on his expressive face,” Anderson said in her dedication remarks.

Anderson said she intentionally did not sculpt the irises of Carnahan’s eyes until a few days before Jean Carnahan’s final visit to her studio.

“It has been said eyes are the window to the soul and it was never more true than with the portrait of Mel,” said Anderson. “Jean and I accomplished what we set out to do.”

Former Missouri House Speaker Steve Gaw, a Democrat, shared several memories of the former governor and the vision of the head of state.

“That Capitol was filled with hope and energy,” Gaw said at the ceremony. “Mel’s leadership fed the aspiration for change. Mel was fearless in attacking issues that many would avoid. Mel was driven by issues that made lives better. He saw public service as a service for the public good and never to serve his self interest or those who expected something as a result of their support. He treated people of all walks of life the same.”

Gaw said Mel and Jean Carnahan were there in spirit at the ceremony.

“And I know they are here in each of our hearts,” he said.

Thursday’s ceremony comes days after the death of Jean Carnahan. She died January 30 at the age of 90.

Jean Carnahan was the first Missouri woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. She was appointed to the U.S. Senate seat Mel won posthumously in 2000.

Her memorial service is on Saturday in St. Louis.

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