03/12/2013 4:14PM

Adalin Wichman, designer of the Eclipse Awards statuette, dies at 91

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Adalin Wichman, who created some of the most popular and acclaimed public works of art and sculptures in central Kentucky and made several enduring artistic contributions to the Thoroughbred industry, including the Eclipse Awards statuette, died on March 10 at her home in Lexington, Ky., after a brief illness. She was 91.

Born in Paris, Ky., Wichman graduated magna cum laude from the University of Kentucky and, after settling in Lexington with her husband, architect William Wichman, taught English and began her career as a professional artist. Her award-winning work includes paintings, portraits, jewelry designs, and bronze sculptures.

Wichman had a long association with Keeneland, serving as advertising director from 1969 to 1989, where she worked closely with Keeneland’s president James E. “Ted” Bassett III and the late J.B. Faulconer.

“Adalin’s incomparable talent was only surpassed by her inimitable personality,” Bassett said in a statement. “She truly enhanced the public perception of Keeneland. She was a very, very special person.”

Faulconer asked Wichman to create the bronze statuette for the Eclipse Awards in 1971 for the Thoroughbred Racing Associations. She based the sculpture on an 18th century painting of Eclipse, undefeated champion in England and a breed-shaping sire. The first Eclipse Awards were given in 1972, honoring the 1971 season, and have been awarded annually ever since.

“On behalf of our fellow Eclipse Awards organizations, the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters and Daily Racing Form, we wish to express our deepest sympathies to the family of Adalin Wichman on her recent passing,” Said  Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

“For more than 40 years, Adalin’s magnificent trophy has stood proudly as a glittering symbol of excellence and the highest honor bestowed in our sport. She will be greatly missed.”

Examples of Wichman’s other work celebrating the Thoroughbred can be found in the Kentucky Derby Museum, the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Horse Park, and the Keeneland Library, among other locales. She also contributed numerous artifacts to various organizations in Kentucky, including the Foucault pendulum clock, the world’s largest ceiling clock, in the atrium at the Lexington Public Library’s central downtown branch.

Wichman’s husband died in 2000. She is survived by two daughters, Adrian and Alison, and a sister, Julia.

There will be a private burial. Visitation is on Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Montrose Farm, 3270 Bryan Station Rd., Lexington. Memorial contributions can be made to the Adalin Wichman Fund at the Lexington Public Library Foundation, 140 East Main Street, Lexington, Ky., 40507-1318.