Seaford Museum display features exhibit of work by Charles Parks

By Lynn R. Parks

Sue Bramhall remembers well the day that her dad, Wright Robinson, first saw the bust that his friends had commissioned for him. The bust was done by noted Wilmington sculptor Charles Parks and was presented to Robinson at his 90th birthday party.

"It was the first time that I'd seen my dad cry," said Bramhall, Seaford. "We pulled the cloth that we had covering it off and he was just dumbstruck. He was overcome with emotion."

That bust, which soon after its unveiling was presented to the Seaford Historical Society, is the cornerstone of an exhibit of Parks' works, on display at the Seaford Museum through June. The exhibit includes a dozen plaster and fiberglass molds that Parks created in preparation for making bronze statues.

Parks died in October and about 300 of his molds were donated to the state. The molds on display at the Seaford Museum belong to the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. This is the first display of Parks' works in a small Delaware museum.

"This is a true feather in our cap," historical society president Don Allen said at an opening reception held Friday night. "Just think: We will have these beautiful sculptures to enjoy through June."

The Parks molds in the exhibit include "Boy with Duck" and "Boy with Seals," portrayals of a young boy playing with animals, and "Centreville Farmer," which features a man and a horse. It also includes several busts, among them a bust of former Gov. Russ Peterson.

The Robinson bust, though, dominates the exhibit. Sitting on a black walnut stand that was made by Larry Manlove, Seaford, and his father-in-law, the late Dick Livingston, it is the first piece that visitors see when they enter the room and the last that they see when they leave it. A plaque beneath it reads, "Wright Robinson, Seaford's Most Distinguished Citizen, 1998."

Parks was commissioned to do the bust by three of Robinson's friends, brothers Charles and Warren Allen and Everett Conaway, all of whom are deceased. In order to keep the bust a surprise, Parks created it from more than 40 photographs taken over a period of 60 years. Doing so gave the sculpture a "timeless feel," Parks said at a ceremony in 1998 at which the bust was presented to the historical society.

"This is a good likeness," he added. "I think that in it, I imparted a kind of nobility that comes from his spirit rather than just from his stature."

Robinson, a native of Seaford, died Dec. 10, 2003, at the age of 95. He was co-founder and long-time editor of The Leader newspaper. At the time of his death, he was its editor emeritus.

As newspaper editor, Robinson fought for Seaford to establish its own generating plant, which operated for years. He was fond of saying that right-turn-on-red, now a national standard, was his idea.

For years, he wrote a column entitled "Reflections" about Seaford history. Up until nearly the day he died, he wrote about local people, their accomplishments and their foibles. He also helped to write a postcard history of Seaford, part of the "Images of America" series.

For your information Works by sculptor Charles Parks will be on display in the Seaford Museum through June. The exhibit includes the museum's own work, a bust of noted Seaford historian the late Wright Robinson. The museum is located at 203 High St. in downtown Seaford. It is open Thursday through Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. Admission to the Parks exhibit is free. For addition information, call the Seaford Historical Society, 628-9828.

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