Karate black belt. Taxidermist. Realtor. Boat manufacturer.
Those are a few hats worn by Conway artist Jimmy Richardson, who has worked to restore a bronze dolphin sculpture at Myrtle Beach Travel Park to its original condition.
A veteran who served in the Marines, the 75-year-old carved his first wood piece when serving his country.
“If they’re not shooting at you, it’s kind of boring,”he joked.
One of the owners of the park, Elsie Burroughs, commissioned the piece in 1993. Her late husband who was a sailor in the Navy was said to love dolphins.
Years later, her daughter and one of the park’s current owners, Lisa Parrish, led the effort for its restoration. Parrish said her mother would routinely watch Richardson work on the piece, which inspired him.
The sculptor himself noted that the environment the piece is in and chlorine in the fountain is why it has deteriorated somewhat.
Having a fascination with anatomy, Richardson said his experience in taxidermy led to him becoming a sculptor and being behind several local pieces.
“God made these animals,” he said. “Rather than going to a zoo and looking at one, look at my sculpture.”
Wanting his work to be precise, the piece of art depicting a bottlenose dolphin was modeled after a real one, with Richardson obtaining information regarding one of the creatures that washed ashore in South Carolina from a wildlife official.
On Saturday afternoon, Richardson could be seen working on the piece’s restoration and spectators had a chance to chat with him while learning the history behind the sculpture.
“You’re creating something,” he said of why he enjoys the craft. “One-hundred years from now, that dolphin will still be there with my name on it.”
Called “Freedom,” the piece sits in the park’s brick fountain. Its name derives from Richardson, who’s dealt with multiple bouts of cancer, being notified he was cancer free as well as its dedication on July 4, 1994.
Hundreds of pounds of clay and hours of work were required for the piece itself.
Myrtle Beach Travel Park General Manager Tim Deputy said it’s significant to many guests who have visited the campground for years.
As of now, Richardson remains renewing and creating different pieces. In the wintertime, he will take the sculpture to his studio for further work.
“I want to see the Lord when I die, but I’m not ready to leave this earth yet,”he said. “I've got too many things to do.”