A statue dedication Sunday in Downtown Howell for Duane Zemper brought out more than 150 community members, dignitaries and family members.

The man, known affectionately to so many simply as Zemp, would have been 99 years old on Sunday as the lifelike statue of him standing and leaning on a stack of books was unveiled in front of the Howell Carnegie District Library, following a countdown led by artist Kristine Poole. Poole and her husband Colin are a nationally-known sculpting team based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, although Kristine has family in Livingston County. They were given the commission to create the statue by the Duane Zemper Legacy Project, which was formed shortly after his death at age 96 in 2016. The committee sought to honor Zemp’s more than 50 years of volunteerism in the community, including co-founding the Howell Area Archives and preserving hundreds of original photographs of Howell and Livingston County dating well back into the 19th century.

Sunday’s ceremony included an Honor Guard salute and a Missing Man Formation flyover to honor’s Zemper’s service in World War II as a combat photographer who regularly flew on bombing missions over Nazi-occupied Europe. Afterwards, Zemp’s son Eric reflected on the statue’s significance. "It's fantastic. It's nothing I would ever have expected growing up. I was very surprised and very pleased, humbled when I heard this was going to happen. I was happy to have been able to take part in the whole process. It's just great. I really appreciate the community doing this."

After the unveiling, the crowd moved over to the Howell Opera House where Zemper’s award-winning photos were on display and a proclamation from Governor Snyder was presented by State Representative Hank Vaupel and State Senator Joe Hune. Details were also presented about the next phase of the Zemper Legacy Project, which may include a walking historical tour of Downtown Howell using many of the photographs Zemper preserved and possibly even including his own narration using past interviews. (JK)