University Appeals For Return Of Irreplacable Sandstone Bench

August 14, 1997

Officials at the University of Colorado at Boulder are seeking information about the apparent theft of an historic piece of sandstone planned as the seat for a bronze sculpture in memory of the late Bruce Ekstrand, former vice chancellor for academic affairs.

The 50-year-old sandstone slab was reported missing Wednesday afternoon from a construction site at Old Main on the Boulder campus. It was to have been used as a seating surface for a Robert Frost scuplture in remembrance of Ekstrand.

“The sculpure is a commemorative piece to honor Bruce, who was a beloved administrator and professor at CU-Boulder," said Bill Deno, campus architect for the university’s Facilities Management department and coordinator of the sculpture project.

Ektrand, who died in April 1996 of respiratory failure caused by a cerebral aneurysm, was a member of the CU-Boulder faculty for 30 years and was vice chancellor for academic affairs from July 1986 until his death in 1996.

The bench top apparently was stolen from the the Bruce Ekstrand Sculpture Plaza under construction at Old Main. Ekstrand’s wife, Norma, and members of a committee formed to honor Ekstrand “will be devastated at the loss of this piece of sandstone,” according to Deno.

“This sandstone is irreplaceable,” Deno said. “Because the stone bench top piece is very old, it is of a texture and color that cannot be replaced.

“We are hopeful that someone may know of its whereabouts and return it to the university,” he said.

The Ekstrand family, the committee that raised money to buy the sculpture and build the plaza, and Facilities Management are asking that anyone who has information on the whereabouts of the sandstone call or leave a message at the Facilities Management service desk at 492-5522. Deno said callers may leave information with “no questions asked.”

The sandstone slab was one of three curved pieces that served as a seating surface for a stone bench located near the Gates Woodruff Women's Studies Cottage for more than 50 years.

When renovation of the Cottage began last year, the bench was disassembled and the stones saved for future use. The unique curved shape of the stones is ideal as a seating surface for the Robert Frost sculpture planned for a new plaza under construction next to the south steps of Old Main.

The plaza and sculpture were to be dedicated on Sept. 5.

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