"In the military, we say a warrior dies twice. The first time is when he draws his last breath, and the second time is when someone speaks his name for the last time." –Colonel Lee Busby; USMC, Retired
Tuscaloosa native and University of Alabama graduate Colonel Lee Busby is one of the most humble men you'll ever meet. He's also one of Alabama's best sculpters. He retired from the United States Marine Corps at the end of 2013, and began to play with clay in his spare time. Col. Lee doesn't remember how he got started, though. "It kind of progressed from kids' Play-Doh figures to things that started looking remotely like human beings," he laughs. He knew very early on, though, that what he enjoyed most was sculpting portraits. Col. Lee looks at a face like a puzzle, trying to capture the quirks, gestures, and character traits that make a person who they are.
Col. Lee's interest in sculpting began to overlap with his military experience when he decided to look up Alabamians who'd been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. He decided to contact one of the families, hoping that the parents would be open to him creating a sculpture honoring their son's likeness. Col. Lee reached out to the father of Johnny "Mike" Spann, of north Alabama – a Marine Captain killed overseas while he was working for the CIA. Mike's father met several times with Col. Lee, and they finally got the likeness down. This was only the beginning for Col. Lee, who realized the impact of his gift. "I'm no Michelangelo, but I know the world that these people operate in and I know what they went through. And, I do have some ability to sculpt. So, that's what I want to do."