Commonwealth Journal

News Live

July 29, 2013

Bust of Sen. Cooper is ‘rescued’ by attorney

Richard Hay’s find headed to new home


Somerset —

“The artist (who created the bust), John Tuska, had kept it,” said Hay, noting that Tuska passed away in 1998. “His son recently sold it to Clifton Anderson Antiques.”
Hay showed the Commonwealth Journal the description of the prototype bust, which listed a marked-down price of $1,500 for the bust. It said that Seth Tuska, John’s son, sold it at auction in 2012.
“John Sherman Cooper’s ... legacy of public service and bipartisanship is too lengthy and well-known for this signage but few would argue that his terms as a senator from Kentucky and other important posts places him as our most respected representative in Washington within the 20th century,” reads the note, “and certainly that designation carries to the present.
“(John) Tuska traveled to Washington D.C. where Cooper posed for the artist at age 80, although Tuska softened the aging process to depict Cooper during his tenure as a 60-year-old senator from Kentucky,” it continued.
The finished bust by Tuska was placed in the capitol rotunda, with a dedication recorded in the Commonwealth Journal on October 13, 1987. In it, Sen. Ted Kennedy, a noted Democrat in Congress, was quoted as sharing high praise for his Republican colleague Cooper.
“If you want the unvarnished truth on any issue, free from partisan bias or special interest influence, all you have to do is remember four little words: Ask John Sherman Cooper,” Sen. Kennedy recalled his brother, the late President John F. Kennedy, as telling him.
Cooper passed away in 1991.
Hay said the bust will need a new base, likely copied off of the one in the capitol building — “I don’t think this base is very deserving,” he said of the simple stark white pillar on which the sculpture currently sits — and a protective glass encasement, since it’s far more breakable than the final bronze version, being made only of plaster.
Hay said that he was “excited” to make the find, and to be able to give it a fitting new home.
“What more famous person is there from Pulaski County?” he said. “To bring it home and put it in the judicial center, I’m very excited about it.”

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