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MLK sculptor remembered for art, passion after deadly crash

ATLANTA (AP) — The artist selected to sculpt a Martin Luther King Jr. statue for the Georgia Capitol grounds died Sunday after a weekend crash involving a suspected drunken driver, a coroner said. Andy Davis was 53.

Davis’ friends remembered him Monday as a passionate artist who mentored young creatives by establishing an arts center in his hometown of McDonough. He brought people from Georgia to life through sculpture, including works of musician Ray Charles and Chick-Fil-A founder Truett Cathy. He was a Bohemian who refused to wear shoes whenever possible but took his work and getting to know his subjects seriously.

“It’s just a huge loss for this community, and I think for the world,” said Elizabeth “BJ” Mathis, who met Davis when he approached her and other Henry County commissioners about sculpting a Patrick Henry statue. “Andy was Andy, no matter where he was.”

Davis was on his motorcycle in Henry County when he was rear-ended by a pickup truck early Saturday morning, the Georgia State Patrol has said. The 20-year-old driver, Corey Sease, has been charged with driving under the influence.

Spokeswoman Franka Young said additional charges could develop from a follow-up investigation.

Davis was pronounced brain dead Sunday at 9:50 p.m., according to Henry County Coroner Donald Cleveland. He said his office was informed of Davis’ death shortly after that by Grady Memorial Hospital, where Davis was treated after the crash.

Davis’ family issued a statement Sunday before he died, thanking people for their prayers and encouragement.

“He’s always been our Captain; A fighter, a lover, a friend, and he Never, Never, Never gives up,” the statement read.

Gov. Nathan Deal, who announced the King statue commission last month, said his death was a loss for the state.

“He leaves behind a legacy of excellent work, and I regret that will not include a statue on our Capitol grounds that many generations of Georgians would have admired,” Deal said in a statement.

State Rep. Calvin Smyre, charged with guiding the design and fundraising for the statue, said he was stunned. The two spent more than four hours last week finalizing the sculpture plans and touring the King Center in Atlanta, Smyre said.

“Andy Davis not only was a talented artist, he was a wonderful person to work with,” Smyre said. “He was just a fun person to be around, full of energy and always positive. He poured his all into this project and really was raring to go.”

Smyre said those working on the King statue will regroup but for now are focused on supporting and mourning with Davis’ family.

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Follow Kathleen Foody on Twitter at http://twitter.com/katiefoody.

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