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Pensacola Statue Honoring Whibbs OK’d

Pensacola Statue Honoring Whibbs Ok'd

Vince Whibbs Sr., is known by many as one of the longest serving mayors in Pensacola’s history. To others, he was the former World War II fighter pilot who grew a successful area car dealership. Organizations like the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Sacred Heart Hospital and the University of West Florida will remember him for the leadership he provided while serving on different boards of directors.

But to Mark Whibbs and his six brothers and sisters, Vince Whibbs Sr., was known simply as Dad. “He was absolutely the most wonderful dad in the world,” Mark said. “He had tremendous care and concern for everybody he came in contact with.”

Wednesday afternoon, the board of trustees of the Community Maritime Park Associates approved a memorial to Whibbs, after whom the park is officially named. In mid 1970s, CMPA chair Jim Reeves was a city councilman and made the motion that led to Whibb’s appointment as mayor. “He was the most enthusiastic promoter of Pensacola,” Reeves said. “In view of Mayor Whibbs long service to the city, I can’t think of another place that would be more fitting.”

Through a statement, current Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward had high praise for his predecessor, who was fond of saying, “Pensacola is the western gate to the Sunshine State, where thousands live the way millions wish they could.”

“The Vince Whibbs, Sr. Community Maritime Park and this memorial are testaments to his leadership, his love for Pensacola, and his incredible service to this community,” Hayward said.

Construction of the memorial and installation of a life-sized bronze statue standing 5 feet, 8 and a half inches tall will cost between $90,000 and $100,000. It will be paid for by the Whibbs family, which hopes young people and newcomers to Pensacola will be educated about their father’s contribution to the city. “We are tickled to death with the park itself and even more the opportunity to have him there facing the westerly direction watching the sunset,” Mark Whibbs said.

Michael Wolf, principal landscape architect with The Wallace Company, designed the memorial, which will be located just north of the park’s amphitheater. The black granite base and the memorial area, itself, are in the shape of a pentagon, inspired by Whibbs service to the City of Five Flags. “The memorial itself will be an accent to the Maritime Park adding a focal point to the end of the walkway and reminding people that Vince Whibbs was a major contributor to the development of the park,” Wolf said.

Bob Rasmussen is the sculptor of the statue, which depicts “a typical Vince Whibbs smile.” The retired director of the National Naval Aviation Museum has sculpted 40 pieces for commissions around the country. He worked with Whibbs when the former mayor served on the board of directors of the museum’s foundation. “I got to know him pretty well. I guess I was fortunate enough to say I knew him personally,” Rasmussen said. “I think that helps in creating any kind of artwork of an individual. I worked from photographs to refresh my memory to get the accurate similarities in his features.”

Construction will begin immediately and should take between 60 and 90 days.

– Source: Carlos Gieseken, (