An 8ft bronze statue of Obie will be erected in downtown Massillon

MASSILLON – Obie has symbolized the Tigers and the school community of the town of Massillon for over 80 years.

To lead the Tiger Swing Band on the field cheering on the football team and getting high fives from the smallest of the Tigers, he is one of the most recognizable inhabitants of the city of champions.

It will soon become a permanent part of the city’s landscape.

Continued:Obie and Tiger Swing Band took to the streets to excite fans

This summer, an 8-foot bronze statue of Obie will be erected in the center of town.

An anonymous benefactor donated funds to the Massillon Tiger Football Booster Club to create and build the larger-than-life piece.

A smaller model stands in the foreground as sculptor Alan Cottrill works on a statue of Massillon Tigers mascot Obie at his studio in Zanesville.

Obie’s story: ‘O’ is for orange and ‘B’ is for black

In 1926, Washington High senior Viola Black won a contest to name the school’s mascot.

Taking an “O” for orange and a “B” for black from the school colors, Black suggested the mascot should be known as Obie.

“Looks like they had a ceramic or maybe a papier-mâché tiger,” said Bob Wenzel, the longtime Tiger Swing Band announcer.

After the name was coined, it all but disappeared from Tiger history until legendary football manager Paul Brown suggested that a costumed mascot could fire up the crowd on the sidelines of a Friday Night Football game in 1938.

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Band manager George “Red” Bird used his Hollywood connections to buy a real tiger skin and make it into a student costume.

“Paul Brown graduated in the spring of 1926, could he have remembered the name Obie?” Wenzel asked. “They named the tiger in the fall of 1926. Did he remember or did he come up with the name again?”

Once Obie joined the group, the name took off, he added.

But the Obie design seen everywhere today – an adorable tiger holding a soccer ball and sporting a black sweater with a big orange “M” and an old-fashioned football helmet – only appeared in the 1940s when an advertisement for the Tyson Roller Bearing Co. appeared on a football program.

A close view of model sculptor Alan Cottrill as he works on a statue of Massillon Tigers mascot Obie.

“We have no idea who drew it,” Wenzel said. “There are no initials on it. There’s just no way to credit who actually drew it.”

Used sparingly in the 1950s and 1960s, the Obie cartoon appeared on the back of a Washington high school yearbook around 1960, Wenzel said.

The image came to life in 1962 when Junie Studer started using it.

Studer founded, owned and operated Studer Signs and lived and breathed Tigers. Originally from Springfield, Studer fell in love with Massillon while visiting his family and later moved to Massillon, met his wife and raised his children as Tigers.

Studer, former president of the Massillon Tiger Football Booster Club, hand painted his first hoop for the team to run through in 1952 and continued to do so until 1996.

“(Obie’s image) was easy to draw and easy to duplicate and he really put it out there,” Wenzel said. “From then on, he became the permanent mascot (image) Obie.”

While several versions of Obie have been adopted by school, school clubs and sports teams, the version of Obie holding the soccer ball has remained the norm, he said.

“I have stories. People will be on vacation in the South or in the West and someone will see a sticker on a car (of Obie) and immediately they will say Massillon,” he said. . “It became easily recognizable.”

Now the two-dimensional image has been redesigned into a 3D replica.

Zanesville sculptor Alan Cottrill was commissioned to create the figure.

Sculptor Alan Cottrill is working on a statue of the Massillon Tigers mascot Obie at his studio in Zanesville.  The 8-foot bronze statue is expected to be placed in downtown Massillon.  The statue is funded by an anonymous donor.

Who is the sculptor Alan Cottrill?

Cottrill, a former high school football player and coach, knew about the Tigers and the team’s success.

During a visit to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in his early twenties, Cottrill got to see where the success began.

“We went to high school and there was the weight room with the pictures of NFL players on the wall,” he said. “We didn’t have that (at our school). No wonder these kids are so good.”

So when he got the call to create the Obie statue, he couldn’t pass it up.

“I loved Paul Brown, he was one of my heroes,” Cottrill said. “Obie is Massillon football and Massillon is the epitome of high school football. I had goosebumps.

“Massillon is known all over the country, especially the rivalry with Canton McKinley. It’s one of the most important programs in the country. I coached football in high school and I still dream of playing football even though I’m almost 70.”

For the past few months, Cottrill has been working on the Obie statue daily.

After working on the iconic image and researching the tigers, Cottrill created a mockup, a miniature version of the piece.

He had to imagine what Obie looked like from behind.

“All you see is the front. You only see one ear,” he said.

Standing in front of the massive clay version of Obie, Cottrill shared how the piece takes you from his face to paw to paw and finally football.

“I attacked Obie like I love football,” he said. “He’s got gravity. If he stood up, he’d be 9 feet tall.”

The artist and the promoters of the booster club put the final touches to the clay version which will then be transformed into a bronze statue.

It will go through a thorough process before the finished project is ready to be placed in its new home.

Cottrill explained the 26-step process that includes creating the clay version, which is attached to foam and a steel frame. The statue is sealed with shellac and metal wedges are placed in the sculpture to help separate the mold into sections.

Cottrill estimates that Obie will be broken down into 20-30 pieces which will be assembled to create the finished bronze figure.

These parts will be welded together, ground and mixed to hide all the lines, he said.

When complete, the statue will weigh approximately 1,400 pounds with the steel reinforcements that will be placed inside the tiger to ensure its stability.

The Obie statue will not be Cottrill’s first creation in Massillon and Stark County.

The artist sculpted the Vietnam veteran statue that stands in front of Perry High School.

He also created the Medal of Honor statues in the Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Massillon. These pieces were signed in 2005.

Since he began carving in his late 30s, 69-year-old Cottrill has carved more than 360 life-size pieces, including historical figures such as presidents and inventor Thomas Edison whose statue is in the National Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol. From Jesse Owens and Woody Hayes to soldiers, coal miners and firefighters, Cottrill’s work can be seen across the United States.

An artist's rendering shows the bronze statue of Obie at Lincoln Way East and First Street NE.  A sandstone wall with benches will serve as a backdrop for the 8-foot statue and mask a parking lot behind it.

A piece of Massillon Tiger history

Plans call for the statue to be placed at Lincoln Way E and First Street NE next to Benders. The backdrop will be the fresco created by Eric Groh in 1997. The “Century of Heroes” fresco highlights the history and traditions of Massillon Tiger football.

School board member John Paquelet said plans include building a sandstone wall with benches behind the statue to help obscure the parking lot that adjoins the area.

The stone is said to come from Ohio and correspond to the older buildings that line the streets of downtown.

Architect John Patrick Picard works with the group to design the space.

The recall club hopes to install and dedicate the statue ahead of this year’s football season.

The $90,000+ project is fully funded by the donor and booster club. No city funds are used. The city has been asked to maintain the neighborhood.

The city council gave a first reading on Monday evening to an ordinance accepting the gift and will consider its full passage in the coming weeks.

“It’s an incredible gift for the city and we are lucky to receive this statue,” Massillon Mayor Kathy Catazaro said last week.

Dr. Charles Paquelet, who leads the abseiling club project, envisions the joy the statue will bring to townspeople as well as visitors.

He imagines children and adults taking pictures with the famous tiger.

“It’s a natural fallout,” said the 1952 WHS graduate. “It’s a popular design around town and why not make a statue out of it?

“You recognize the Obie mascot and he represents the football team, the school and also the town of Massillon. Tell anyone where you’re from Massillon and they say football.”

Contact Amy at 330-775-1135 or [email protected]

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