The City of Franklin will soon honor late Franklin resident Jimmy Gentry with a statue to remember his national and community service and the sacrifice of all of Franklin's World War II veterans.
The item was discussed during Tuesday's Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session, with the planned bronze statue to feature Gentry's likeness sitting on a bench in front of the rock wall that surrounds downtown Franklin’s Historic Presbyterian Church, a site that played a prominent role in Gentry's youth.
Gentry was a lifelong resident of Williamson County and a decorated World War II veteran who died earlier this year at the age of 96.
Gentry owned Gentry Farm and was known to many as “Coach” after his years coaching football at Battle Ground Academy, Brentwood Academy and Franklin High School.
Gentry's military service included the liberation of the Nazi-operated Dachau concentration camp which he detailed in an interview with the Tennessee Holocaust Commission as well as in a documentary about Gentry and in his book "An American Life."
The piece, which is expected to be complete next year, will also be accompanied by a plaque that will read:
"This statue is in the likeness of Franklin, Tennessee native and World War II U.S. Army veteran Jimmy Gentry as he reflects on the rock wall and memories of waiting there for the bus that would take him and many others off to war to fight for our country, many of whom would never return."
The sculpture will be commissioned and created by Clarksville artist Scott Wise at a cost of approximately $85,000, with $20,000 having already been raised by three donors.
Future donations to be accepted through Franklin Tomorrow as part of a private-public partnership, as once it's completed, the statue will be owned and maintained by the city.
The idea of a statue has been discussed for some time before Gentry's death with Leadership Franklin, and now it will soon become a reality.
"We as a community do such an incredible job of capturing our history and telling our stories, and a lot of that goes back to the Battle of Franklin, and I think this is this that next chapter," Franklin Vice Mayor Brandy Blanton said. "We have to make sure that we capture those stories for the next generation."
View the entire BOMA work session below.