The North Bend Eagle


NBC statue
The new tiger statue stands watch in the entrance foyer of th eNBC athletic wing. While a final resting spot for the statue is still under discussion, this spot is one of the favorites.

Sylvia's gift: Tiger statue to guard NBC entrance unveiled

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 5/27/15

Sylvia Slavik wanted to be remembered.

She moved off the family farm in the Purple Cane area and moved into North Bend with her husband, Henry, in 1976 and adopted North Bend. She liked her neighbors. She liked the community. She liked watching the goings on in town.

Her only son, Edwin,76, lives in McAllen, Texas, but he drove up to visit her monthly. During one of his visits in December 2011 Sylvia told him she wanted to do something for the town of North Bend. Her first idea was to buy a sign for the town.

“I want to be remembered, she said, when I die,” Ed said.

NBC statueDana Hoppe, son of sculptor Fred Hoppe, and Ed Slavik unveil the new tiger statue in front of the NBC student body and public Thursday [May 21, 2015].

He reminded her that when a new highway is put in, the sign might not be by the highway. That got her thinking some more. She thought of a statue for the North Bend Morse Bluff Veteran’s Memorial Park. That idea came to fruition and was dedicated on Memorial Day 2012. Next came an angel statue for the cemetery in Schuyler, where her husband was buried.

Then Sylvia decided she wanted to do something for the school. Ed is a 1957 graduate of North Bend High School. Sylvia could see the high school out her back patio door from her home of 38 years on 11th Street. Back in the day when the band would practice marching in the morning she enjoyed opening the door and listening to them. On school activity nights, she would count the buses and cars leaving in the different directions, and give a report to Ed the next day. And she would watch the antics of the kids.

She felt she had it “made” where she lived. She enjoyed her home and she cared about the kids that drove past her house every day. She wanted to give something back.

When thinking of something to do for the school, Ed told his mother that at McAllen High School they have a big bronze bulldog, the school’s mascot.

Sylvia SlavikSlyvia Slavik

“I said, why don’t you get them a tiger?” Ed said. “She said that’s a good idea. Let’s go talk to (sculptor) Fred Hoppe. So we went to Columbus and talked to Fred. And oh, he got excited.”

Unfortunately, Sylvia did not get to see the clay model of the tiger before she died tragically in a house fire Nov. 30, 2013, at the age of 101. She is now buried next to her husband in a cemetery watched over by a statue of a bronze angel.

The tiger statue was official unveiled in a ceremony at the school on Thursday.

“Mother would have been impressed,” Ed said. “It’s striking. It’ll be something that no other school the size of North Bend around here has.”

Sophomore Trey Nelson backed those words up.

“It’s really nice to have something like this to show,” Nelson said. “This is my fourth school and none ever had something like this. Maybe a little something, but not life size.”

At Thursday’s special assembly superintendent Dan Endorf faced the student body, community members, faculty and staff as well as Ed Slavik and built up the excitement. He told them how special the tiger is and encouraged them to treat it with respect.

NBC statueTiger coloring has been added to the bronze statue.

Dana Hoppe, representing his father, sculpture Fred Hoppe, said the most difficult thing about making something like the tiger was putting time in to get it done with so many details. He estimated it took four months to complete.

Speaker Aaron Davis spoke to the students about showing respect, respect for self, for others, for parents, for teacher and coaches. He encouraged students to put away iPhones, I Pods, and use eyeballs, to keep dreaming. He used the story of Sylvia Slavik to illustrate that the students never know who is watching them.

“We never knew how much she cared about our school,” eighth grader Grace Brodd said following the program. “Someone we didn’t even know, cared.”

The statue is life-sized, measuring eight feet from its nose to the tip of its tail and just over three feet tall. It rests on a base 27 inches high, making the whole thing about five-and-a-half feet tall. Rick Hobza made the base out of old doors formerly used in the high school.

When the time finally came, there was a drum roll as Slavik, Hoppe and Hobza pulled the drape off the tiger. The crowd applauded with pleasure at what they saw.

“I like it,” junior Nick Hines said. “It is better than I expected. Much cooler and life size.”

Bev Nissen was one of a few dozen community members to attend the ceremony.

“It’s gorgeous,” she said. “Very striking. It just looks like part of the place because it is so well done.”

The final location of where the statue is still under debate, but it may be put right inside the entrance of the athletic wing where it will greet visitors.

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