Sides Clash Over Naming Of Fisherman Statue

This is a miniature replica of the fisherman statue that will be unveiled in Buzzards Bay Park this summer. A debate is underway over whether the statue should be named for local fishing legend Stan GibbsENTERPRISE FILE PHOTOGRAPH - This is a miniature replica of the fisherman statue that will be unveiled in Buzzards Bay Park this summer. A debate is underway over whether the statue should be named for local fishing legend Stan Gibbs

The two sides wrangling over what to call a lifesize bronze statue of a canal fisherman plan to meet this weekend to try to settle things.

On one side stand the members of the Fisherman Fund, the committee that has raised the money to pay for the statue’s creation. On the other side is the son of the late Stan Gibbs, the local fishing legend whose photograph inspired the statue’s pose.

Mr. Gibbs’s son, Bruce L. Gibbs of Chatham, wants the statue named in honor of his father, a well-known figure in Bourne fishing circles, who died in 2004 at the age of 89. The Fisherman Fund members contend that the statue should honor the heritage of fishing along the Cape Cod Canal and not be named for one person.

The two sides have agreed to talk over their disagreement and attempt to reach some accord on what the statue should be named. Due to this weekend’s scheduled get-together, the Bourne Board of Selectmen did not address the statue-naming during its meeting Tuesday night, as was originally posted on the agenda.

Ten feet tall from base to top, the statue was commissioned by the sponsors of the annual Stan Gibbs Cape Cod Canal Fisherman’s Classic fishing tournament. The design was based on a 1953 photograph of Stan Gibbs and depicts a fisherman carrying two 40-pound stripers.

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It was created by Hyannis sculptor David Lewis, and is currently in Arizona being bronzed. It is scheduled to be unveiled this summer in Buzzards Bay Park as part of the Cape Cod Canal Centennial celebration.

The wording on the statue’s plaque was initially brought before selectmen back in 2009 by Fisherman Fund member Robert B. Willis of Pocasset. At that time, Mr. Willis told selectmen that the statue was meant to honor all fishermen who have fished along the canal.

“We in no way plan to make this a memorial to Stan Gibbs,” Mr. Willis said.

Mr. Willis acknowledged that the statue’s pose was taken from a photo of Stan Gibbs, but it was the feeling of the fund members that the statue not be named for him.

He also noted Stan Gibbs’s contributions to the world of fishing, particularly the handcarved lures that manufacturers continue to replicate. He agreed that Stan Gibbs is a local legend within the Bourne fishing community and everyone who has fished for striped bass along the canal knows of him. But, he said, “I don’t think that constitutes a statue for him, and most of our members agree to that.”

The younger Mr. Gibbs went before selectmen last Tuesday night and made his case for why the statue should be named in honor of his father, calling him probably the finest fisherman in the country.

He added that all the fundraising for the fisherman’s statue was done using the memory of his late father.

Selectman Donald J. Pickard said that it was his understanding that the board’s role was only in allowing the use of town land in Buzzards Bay Park for placement of the statue. The board does not have any control over the Fisherman Fund

“I agree that it would be a tremendous tribute, well deserved if it could be accommodated. I just don’t know if this board has the authority,” Mr. Pickard said.

Town administrator Thomas M. Guerino pointed out that in 2009 selectmen agreed that representatives from the Fisherman Fund had to come back to the board for approval of the wording they planned to place on the statue’s plaque.

Selectman Donald E. (Jerry) Ellis said that he did not believe anyone with a fishing background would have anything bad to say about Stan Gibbs. Mr. Ellis called Stan Gibbs “a first-class individual” and added that it would be appropriate for the board to support the proposal from Bruce Gibbs 100 percent. He made a motion that the statue carry Stan Gibbs’s name. The motion included that selectmen would approve the wording of the statue’s plaque.

The board approved the motion unanimously.

Interviewed yesterday, Mr. Willis stressed that even with the selectmen’s vote, the statue will be named “The Fisherman Statue,” but it could include a reference to Stan Gibbs.

“The Fisherman Statue will be the lead, but whether Stan will be indentified in some manner, that’s a possibility,” he said.

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