Replica of Len Ganeway Statue donated to Lapeer County Medical Care Facility.

BY JOYCE BONESTEEL

Contributing Writer

 

     A sturdy  old  railroad  bench was  stationed  in front of the former Lapeer County Press offices on Nepessing Street for many years. Doris Rolland, a retired edu­cator and former county commis­sioner, remembers when it belonged to the train depot down the street.

     "I used to visit Burns (Rolland) before we were married," she said. "I sat on that bench, waiting until Burns finished milking. Then he came into town to pick me up."

The railroad line closed and so did the depot. Itwas converted  to an insurance agency and County Press owner Bob Myers somehow acquired the bench. He parked it in front of the newspaper office, and when he moved his business to the pole barn complex he built at the corner of M-21 and Myers Road, the bench went, too.

     In the late 1970s, Myers asked

Metamora sculptor Derek Wernher to create an artwork that symbolized the Lapeer newspaper and the community it reflects. No small request. Wernher created a miniature model, and set to work on the full-size bronze sculpture of a lifelike farmer seated on a bench -the railroad bench -reading a newspaper.

     Dryden dairy farmer Herbert Austin was the model. The statue was con­ sidered a reflection of Len Ganeway, the pen name Myers used for his newspaper column in later years. The fictional Len Ganeway was a term Bob's father, Harry Myers, had used

to describe a gentleman farmer and philosopher.

     Myers' daughter Lynn Myers wrote

a lengthy article, explicitly detailed, about Wernher's  creation of the recently completed Len Ganeway stat­

 

Lapeer County Press. That was before the word Lapeer was dropped from the publication' s name. The story tells

how 300 pounds of molten bronze was poured into the torso.

Wernher still has a copy of Lynn's

newspaper article in his records. Asked how much Bob Myers paid for the

sculpture, and a later replica, he said, "Enough."

 

When Myers sold the newspaper to Capital Cities-ABC in 1989, the

statue was moved to the house he and his wife, Lu, had built on Barry Drive in Lapeer. It sat on their porch with American bittersweet growing around it, said Rolland, who worked for Bob.

When she learned he had donated the statue to Brookwood Gardens in

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, she was aghast.

 

"I said 'what are you doing?' That belongs on the courthouse lawn!'" Perhaps Myers felt a prick of con­ science. Or maybe not. Long story short, he hired Wernher to create a replica. But the original railroad bench was gone.

 

"I just bought another bench. It was similar," Wernher said. Bob Myers died Nov. 14, 2000. When Lu moved to Florida, she donated the replica Len Ganeway statue to the Lapeer County Medical Care Facility in Mayfield Township. There it remains for the community to appreciate and enjoy.

 Lapeer County Medical Care Facility
1455 Suncrest Drive
Lapeer, Michigan 48446
810-664-8571

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