Lion Finds a New Lair - Spring 2004 Ivy Leaf Magazine

Ivy Leaf - Spring 2004

Lion Finds a New Lair

While staff members of Penn State Altoona's Office of Development and Alumni Relations were settling into their new "Beech" house, a 5,000-pound "Nittany Lion" moved into a permanent lair close by.

The "Nittany Lion" is an Indiana Limestone statue sculpted by the late W. Walter Campbell, Jr., and donated to Penn State Altoona by his family. The statue rests outside Beech House, the two-story structure located along Gwin Road that houses the Development and Alumni Relations staff.

For nearly 33 years, the statue was a beloved fixture in the Campbell family's backyard in Hollidaysburg, PA. Campbell, who passed away at age 93 in July, spent over 300 hours sculpting the Nittany Lion during the summer of 1971.

A self-trained artisan, Campbell did not pursue his avocation until he was in his 60's. His other works adorn properties throughout the Hollidaysburg area and include the tiger statue at the entrance to the Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School; "Pioneer Family" which commemorates the nation's bicentennial; and "Christ in the Garden" at First United Methodist Church. He also created sculptures of two children, modeled after grandchildren Bruce and Wendy Campbell, displayed in Hollidaysburg's Legion Park.

Born in 1910 in Johnstown, PA, Campbell earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University and served as an instructor in Penn State's Department of Architecture. He retired in 1970 from the firm of Hayes Large Architects (formerly, Hunter, Campbell and Rea) after 35 years of service. Campbell was senior partner of the firm from 1962-70. He was very active in civic, church and community groups.

In addition to sculpting and wood carving, Campbell enjoyed working in his garden and painting. Campbell is survived by his wife of 67 years, Dorothy; two children; and five grandchildren.