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Sculptor and MSU grad O.V. "Verne" Shaffer dies at 93

February 25, 2021
The Sunseed statue located in Michigan State's Horticulture Gardens photographed on Feb. 24, 2021.
The Sunseed statue located in Michigan State's Horticulture Gardens photographed on Feb. 24, 2021. —
Photo by Rahmya Trewern | The State News

Sculptor and Michigan State University Master’s graduate O.V. "Verne" Shaffer died last week at 93 years.

Shaffer sculpted the “Sunseed” statue displayed in the Botanical Gardens on campus. The sculpture was a gift from the E.J. and Julia Crozier McClearly family to the university. 

While earning his Master’s degree at MSU, Shaffer worked as an art professor at Olivet College in Olivet, Michigan in the early 1950s. After graduating, he moved to Beloit, Wisconsin where he worked as an art professor and director of the Wright Art Center at Beloit College, according to his obituary. 

From 1961-2015, Shaffer worked as a self-employed sculptor responsible for mostly large outdoor public pieces. He hosted many one-person exhibitions over his time living in Wisconsin and exhibited throughout the Midwest. According to the Museum of Wisconsin Art, Shaffer held over 1,200 pieces to his credit. In 2014, he received a Certificate of Recognition from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, stating he had more public pieces of sculpture in Wisconsin than any other artist. 

Shaffer was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Prairie Arts Council in Princeton, Illinois and another from The Arts of Starved Rock Country in the same state. 

In his free time, Shaffer enjoyed traveling, camping, canoeing, skiing, working the yard and piloting his own plane, according to the obituary. 

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