I often think if you looked up the word “tenacious” in a dictionary, you’d find a photo of Chuck Ward. He approaches every endeavor with a can-do attitude and rarely takes no for the final answer.
He was among those who planned and completed the Faces of Freedom memorial at Atascadero Lake Park, drove to completion the American Heritage Monument standing in what will some day be the center of Colony Square, and brought about the Purple Heart Trail.
Now Chuck is behind a renewed effort to create a life-sized bronze of Chuck Paddock that will stand in front of the zoo Paddock created back in 1955. Fundraising efforts are underway to complete the bronze, being created by local artist/sculptor Mark Greenaway, who did the bronze pieces for the Faces of Freedom, American Heritage Monument and the sign on Highway 41 for the lake park memorial.
Greenaway has already begun the bronze. In the photo I’ve seen of the proposed statue, it looks like Chuck Paddock. In this work, Chuck will be holding a possum with words telling visitors to the zoo, “If you reach up and rub his snout it will bring you good luck.”
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I knew Chuck Paddock and worked with him as a journalist. I always enjoyed going out to find Chuck busy caring for his little zoo even though he was also responsible for the whole park and downtown Sunken Gardens.
His son, Michael, was in my English class. Marine Cpl. Paddock lost his life in Vietnam in 1969. I remember the hurt his father suffered at the loss of his son. That is why this statue project will include on the bronze plaque the words, “In Memory of CPL Michael J. Paddock.”
The bronze will be another fine piece of public art for Atascadero. This one will be very close to that bronze tiger created by Susan Beattie years ago.
Donations are being accepted now to reach the estimated cost of $55,000. The entire piece will be built with private donations; no government support. Tax-deductible donations may be sent to: Charles Paddock Statue Project, PO Box 2471, Atascadero, 93423.
I have little doubt Chuck Ward will get this accomplished. His only setback was on his effort a few years ago to have a bronze statue of E.G. Lewis created for a public place. His idea was shot down by the Historical Society leadership, who did not want Greenaway to be the sculptor.
The statue will be a fitting tribute to Chuck Paddock as we approach the 60th anniversary of the zoo, and to his son, who lost his life in service to his country.