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Jeep sculpture made more special due to choice of artist

In the Butler Eagle photograph of the unveiling of the Bantam Jeep sculpture Friday at the opening of the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival, a man in a black T-shirt and bandanna can be seen grinning just behind the sculpture’s spare tire.

The man is the artist who expertly crafted the amazingly accurate sculpture of the vehicle designed in Butler decades ago, which evolved into the ever-popular Jeep.

Given the perfection of the sculpture, maybe the artist was commissioned from Europe or some far-flung state?

No, what makes the amazing Bantam Jeep sculpture off North Main Street in Butler even more special is the fact that the artist is a Butler native who graduated from Butler Senior High School in 1979 and lives in Summit Township.

Bill Secunda has quietly been cranking out amazing metal art in his studio for many years, and has won numerous awards for his pieces.

In addition to huge animals, movie characters, whimsical creatures and other works, Secunda created a horse and Western rider for the Butler Shade Tree Commission, which was placed at the south end of the General Richard Butler Bridge to welcome visitors to the city.

He also stepped in without hesitation when the Penn Township Veterans Association wondered what it would do when the 13-foot wide metal eagle atop their Wings of Peace Memorial began to crumble a few months ago.

Secunda repaired and fortified the majestic bird, and it was replaced atop a stone obelisk at the intersection of Airport and Three Degree roads, much to the delight of the old veterans in the group.

Now, Secunda had memorialized in metal Butler County’s claim to fame, the Bantam Jeep.

Hats off to Butler’s welding wonder and native son, who, although he has attended installments of his work all over the U.S., has proven his prioritization of his beloved hometown.

Who knows what Secunda sculpture will turn up in Butler County in the future?

But one thing is for sure, Secunda is an artist who will never forget his humble roots here in Butler County. Of that, the Eagle is extremely proud.

— PJG

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