John Winslow LedBetter was a beloved husband, father, doctor and Scoutmaster. He passed away last March and is missed by family and friends. Last summer, his widow Gwenda, approached me about creating a memorial to him. The original idea was for a cairn, as a symbol of John’s endless love for the mountains. The idea resonated but presented challenges at the cemetery, where a single boulder looms over a neighboring gravesite. With the vertical space already claimed, we opted to paint on a horizontal canvas.
During the first conversation I had with Gwenda about the project, she gave me a simple card that was shared with everyone at John’s funeral. She noted with some pride that the sketch was a logo that John had drawn for his Scout troop. The iconic hiker image became the starting point of my design.
The gravesite, in the historic Riverside Cemetery in the Montford section of Asheville, is long and lean, at 4′ by 10′. This had a significant impact on how I drew the design. The hiker rests briefly, taking in the sun setting over the Blue Ridge Mountains. The original artwork has an everyman silhouette, which I have replaced with John’s profile, drawn from pictures his family provided.
The construction process has gone slowly, mostly because of some gravity testing I did with a very large stone and my finger. Gravity still works; finger still recovering. I cut John’s figure from scraps of a countertop material called Absolute Black. The sunset is sandstone from Tennessee. The mountains, now underway, are Pennsylvania bluestone.
I hope to begin installation this week. More images to come.