A year and a half after his passing, Leesburg icon Stanley Caulkins returned to his King Street storefront Saturday morning.
A bronze sculpture honoring Caulkins was unveiled to a crowd topping 100, following a lengthy fundraising period that made the $60,000-plus project possible. The late Caulkins was a legend in the community —co-founding the Leesburg Executive Airport, serving on the Town Council, and involved in a multitude of community and civic organizations. But Caulkins was perhaps most known as the purveyor in his iconic Caulkins Jewelers King Street shop, which he ran with brother, Roger, for 60 years.
He was remembered Saturday as a friend to many, known for doling out advice and countless stories of his years spent watching downtown ebb and flow, as a radio operator on a B-17 bomber during World War II, and his work in founding the county seat’s municipal airport.
Leesburg Commission on Public Art Chairman Donna Torraca kicked off Saturday’s ceremony by recognizing Sunset Hills Vineyard owner Diane Canney for her vision for the project. Canney began organizing a group to get the sculpture project up and running shortly following her friend Caulkins’ death in January 2018. Close to 100 people donated towards the project, from donations of $10 to $10,000, Torraca noted, but that doesn’t include the small donations collected in the “Stanley boxes” that were stationed in shops throughout Leesburg during the fundraising drive.
Lovettsville-based sculptor Jeff Hall executed the vision for the project, integrating small details into the final product — diamonds in Caulkins’ tie to signify his work as a jeweler; his magnifier attached to his glasses; a pocket watch in his hands; a B-17 bomber tie clasp; a Rotary pin on his lapel; and his VFW hat folded in his lap. The sculpture, with Caulkins casually sitting on a bench, inviting passersby to share a seat with him, sits outside of his former jewelry shop, a space now divided between Black Hoof Brewery and Be Beauty makeup studio.
Mayor Kelly Burk said it was no surprise that Saturday’s ceremony drew such a large crowd.
“Stanley was so very important to all of us,” she said, noting that each individual would probably have a different story to tell of the late icon.
Burk shared her own experience as an elected official, pointing out that anyone running for office in Leesburg knew to seek out Caulkins’ counsel. She recalled his wise words that, once elected, you were no longer representing a political party, but the people.
“You are no longer anything other than a representative of the people, especially the people who didn’t vote for you,” she recalled Caulkins saying.
“He loved Leesburg and the people who lived here,” Burk said.
Unveiling the sculpture were Burk, Hall, Canney and two of Caulkins’ closest friends and Airport Commissioners, Dennis Boykin and Hugh Forsythe.