COLUMBIA, 9/16/10 (Beat Byte) -- Jack LaZebnik was a well-loved Stephens College professor who spent his career writing Broadway plays, teaching English, and living in Columbia, where he died in 2004.
But in his hometown of Jackson, Michigan, LaZebnik (left) is about to be remembered for a very different art: a sculpture of a World War II military pilot planned for Jackson County Airport's Aviation Heritage Park.
LaZebnik, an Army Air Force B-24 pilot during World War II, created a 15-inch version during the war. His brother Bob, a Jackson-based arts supporter, worked for years to erect a full-size version.
Eight feet tall, made of granite and bronze, and privately-funded, LaZebnik's sculpture will be located near the airport entrance and tentatively dedicated on Armed Forces Day, May 21 next year. It will include a plaque naming all Jackson pilots killed during the war.
True to his sense of creative irony, LaZebnik wrote his own obituary, which appeared in the Columbia Daily Tribune. "I write In Memoriams for the [Stephens College] Faculty Bulletin about faculty members who die. So, I decided to write my own in advance."
In his obit, LaZebnik explained his love of family -- and flight -- in the third person, as though he were observing himself after death.
"He loved to fly, his dreams of adventure turning real," LaZebnik wrote. "When he came to the B-24, the Liberator, in Maxwell Field, Ala., his conscientious devotion to the craft and art of controlling that ponderous ship brought him confidence...."