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Posted: February 15, 2014 9:00 p.m.

Famed sculptor Ike Hay dies

Ike Hay Jr., whose father, Isaac Kline Hay, along with brothers Sam M. Hay Jr. and W. Thomas Hay, was born in the old jail in Newton County, died Friday of an undiagnosed lung disorder at his home in Lancaster, Pa.

Hay Jr. graduated from the University of Georgia and the Art Institute in New York City. He spent a lot of time with his family in Covington, although the nature of his work kept him from being able to live in Covington. His grandfather, Sheriff Sam Hay, was a Newton County native. His mother, Florice Caldwell Hay, aunt, Ruth Caldwell Cowan, and uncle, Lewis Caldwell, were all Newton County natives.

A college professor who loved his work and his students once took a position for several years in a program that taught elementary schoolchildren college-level arts. The city in Alabama that was chosen for the experiment built a new library and during the dedication, offered Hay a spot on the lawn to come back someday and design a sculpture for the town to remember him by. He was able to complete the work several years later.

Hay’s works adorn parks and galleries throughout the western hemisphere and Western Europe. His last commission before his retirement several years ago was a 20-foot bronze sculpture of one of the world’s rarest dinosaur skulls for the Smithsonian Institution. The sculpture is permanently mounted at the entry to the Reptile House in Washington, D.C. This challenging project -- curators prohibited any contact with the subject by the sculptor -- was done with precision computer measurements.

He was a member of the Napoleonic Society and spent summers in Paris collecting pieces from the period of Napoleon’s reign, usually beautiful, ornate furniture. A number of people in Covington are fortunate enough to own pieces he purchased and brought back to the States.

Hay is survived by his wife, Teri; daughters Mistral and Moriah Hay; and cousins Samuel M. Hay III, Judson Caldwell of Covington, and Elizabeth (Libby) Hay Staples of Conyers. Plans for the service have not been announced at this time.

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