For the last 10 years, he’s put his artistic hobbies to work re-creating the portraits of Collin County’s casualties of war.
With a home PC, a computer stylus, and at least two different brands of software, a McKinney man is slowly filling the Collin County Courthouse with the faces and names of the county’s heroes. And Tuesday night he added a new face and a new name from Harrison County, Iowa, to his portfolio as a gift to a new friend: our own Dale Hansen.
Colin Kimball, an employee of the Collin County Jail, is a part-time artist. And for the last 10 years, he’s put his artistic hobbies to work re-creating the portraits of Collin County’s casualties of war.
His work on the Fallen Warriors Portrait Project has placed 54 portraits in the hallways of the Collin County Courthouse. Five more portraits will be installed next month. He often works from nothing more than a grainy black and white original photo. But with extensive research, he adds the full uniform of the soldier, airman, or Marine would have worn complete with the appropriate rank, medals, and commendations. The artwork is then printed on canvas.
“The names are important, “Kimball said. “And I want to do as many as humanly possible.”
He can track that motivation to the loss of a childhood friend. His name was Franklin D. Lacey. He was a Marine among the more than 58,220 Americans killed in Vietnam.
“The idea of people not remembering him, has always bothered me,” Kimball said of his friend whose portrait was among the first he created. “I can transfer that to any warrior who has given their life for us. And so my goal, it’s really a mission, is to preserve as many of them as I can.”
And late last year, Kimball was among the guests included in WFAA’s “Taking a Knee” special: a community discussion of the collision between sports and politics. And it eventually led to a private discussion with WFAA’s Dale Hansen whose views of the Vietnam War were largely shaped by the loss of a very good high school friend. His name was Carroll Rodney Meier.
From that conversation, even though the two men professed different views of the Vietnam War, Kimball researched Meier’s service and sacrifice, located an old high school photo, and created his portrait complete with uniform and service medals. Tuesday night during the 10 p.m. newscast, he presented Hansen with the portrait of his friend who died May 28, 1968.
“Their names are all important,” said Kimball. “I just want him to know that Carroll Meier’s life stood for something. His sacrifice stands for something to this day. And it will never be forgotten.”
“There’s a saying, and it really kind of captures my motivation, a soldier’s never dead until he’s forgotten. And it’s my job to make sure these soldiers outlive all of us.”
Kimball hopes he can eventually fill the hallways of the Collin County Courthouse with portraits of the country’s fallen heroes. His research shows that more than 400 men and women from Collin County have died serving their country.