MUNCIE, Ind. (NewsLink) -- Driving down Tillotson Avenue just isn't the same anymore. Where life-sized statues of lions and tigers once stood, now lie mulch. It's a mere footprint of what was once known as "the home of the cats."
Air Force Veteran William Hutcherson Jr., the owner of the decorations, died on Oct 4, 2021.He wore many hats in his lifetime. He served two tours in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Not to mention he was a poet, musician and even a black belt in karate.
"He was still very militant. A 'my way or the highway' kind of parenting style", said Kalynn Hutcherson who is William's granddaughter.
When William was discharged from the Air Force because of a disability, he wanted something to commemorate his fallen brothers and sisters as well as late family members. So, he decided to start buying cat sculptures.
NewsLink Indiana talked to William in March of 2021, "Many people came by, and many shook my hands thanking me. And many, well, and many came by, shook my hand, took pictures. They said, 'Hey we thank you for your service."
There were times when thieves got the best of him. Back in 2014, someone stole one of his tiger statues, leaving behind a broken tail.
"The tiger, it was stolen and they left the tail. And I couldn't believe that,“ explained William while he was showing NewsLink the now replaced tiger.
The cat was never found. William had bought another one immediately after the theft.“
I laugh because we've laughed about it," said Kalynn. "He was super offended and super mad...someone went into his yard and took one of his prized possessions.”
Now a big question remains for Muncie locals, where are the cats now?
“A lot of the figurines were divided amongst family," explained Kalynn. "Some of the larger ones like the lion for sure, I think those were auctioned off."
Although William dedicated a lot of time to his figurines, one of the most important things in his life was taking care of his family.
“I remember my apartment caught on fire in Bloomington and he and my uncle Stevie, they drove down to Bloomington and replaced everything in my apartment," said Kalynn. "He was just always there. He was just a very selfless, giving person. He was a very good grandfather."
Contact Alex Almanza with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org