City of Lawton officials are exploring two ideas to honor the late C.H. Brazzel: a statue and a sign giving his name to the new public safety facility.
Four City Council members made the decision Tuesday, as the city seeks ways to memorialize a man known to a majority of Lawtonians. Although Brazzel served with the Lawton Police Department for 45 years, friends said he was better known as a man whose compassion encompassed a wide variety of residents for a variety of reasons.
Almost immediately after Brazzel’s death in late January, residents took to social media to discuss ways to memorialize him. For many, the obvious choice was naming Lawton’s new public safety facility — which will become the new home of Lawton Police Department — for the man who served his career in the existing police station and who had looked forward to the new building that also will house the city jail, municipal court and the firefighting crews of Central Fire Station.
Council committee members acknowledged that residential proposal Tuesday, saying they agree the building should have Brazzel’s name.
But council members and some residents also said something more is needed, and the idea the committee liked the best was a life-sized statue of Brazzel, accompanied by his longtime friend Raymond McAlester. Brazzel took care of McAlester for decades, until his death in 2018.
Ward 8 Councilman Randy Warren said the consensus from residents who talked to him was that whatever the city’s final decision is, “it needs to be permanent.”
“I lean toward both,” Warren said, of the idea of naming the facility and erecting the statue.
Ward 4 Councilman Jay Burk, who also pledged that Lawton Enhancement Trust Authority (which he chairs) will be involved in the process, said the statue is a more permanent designation for a man now well-known.
“Twenty years from now, no one will know what this means unless we have a plaque, or something in the building,” he said. “Tell a little bit of the story: he was a great person and set a great example … about how to treat human beings.”
Burk and Warren said while funding is available for a sign for the public safety building (something already planned as part of construction), someone will have to coordinate a private fundraising campaign to finance a life-sized bronze statue.
Burk said Lawton Enhancement Trust Authority already works with a firm that has crafted statues for that entity, including a bronze statue of two children erected at the splash pad in Elmer Thomas Park.
Warren will take the lead role in looking into that firm, asking it to set rough estimates on a bronze statue that would feature both Brazzel and McAlester, along with a bronze plaque about Brazzel’s life, “something people can see forever,” Burk said.
City administrators also will be asked to search out the best location for that statue, expected to be located somewhere on the public safety complex property.
Committee members said that while the sign will be on the building before it opens this summer, that speed won’t be possible with the statue. But, what will be done is placement of a pedestal for the statue, which can be incorporated into pavement work in the finishing days of the building.
Burk, who had known Brazzel for years, said while the committee has to do something to mark Brazzel’s memory, his friend would have something to say about it.
He laughed as he said that committee members could hear Brazzel’s voice in their heads, asking “Why are you doing this? For me?”
Committee members also said they will be looking at creating a policy for renaming public facilities, as well as placing statues in public locations. That will be brought back to the committee for discussion, as will the specific details of the statue and sign for Brazzel, before those are recommended to the full council.