Veteran honors fallen soldiers’ sacrifices with portraits

March 21, 2018 GMT

Ken Pridgeon can tell you stories about each of the portraits he began creating portraits in 2010 to honor soldiers killed in actions.

Although he undertook this project in 2010 to honor fallen soldiers who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, Pridgeon has been painting for decades.

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He doodled in his notebooks as a student and after finishing a decade of military service in 1953, he worked as an electronics technician.

“I really didn’t like it that much, but I drew a lot,” he said.

After working on his own business painting billboards, he embarked on his own sign business and earned the nickname “Dauber.”

At the age 75, when the family of a fallen soldier requested that he paint a portrait, it took him three days to complete it and he hasn’t stopped creating them.

Now, at 83 his efforts are recognized by veteran associations and he’s also been invited to the White House in January.

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“A lot of the families know that he’s made a picture for them and he’ll make a print for them,” said Cheryl Whitfield, founder and president of the National Memorial Ladies.

While each portrait includes the American flag and bald eagle, each one also includes details of the fallen soldiers’s lives - a treehouse where one spent time as a child, an antique car another worked to restore or running across a football field in the middle of a game.

“There’s so many stories,” he said.

Pridgeon will be moving his paintings from his Baytown gallery to a new location in north Houston at 13455 Cutten Road. The nearly 300 paintings he’s created will be rotated in the new location, which is sponsored by the Cy-Champ Public Utility District.

Whitfield’s organization also worked to create the Fallen Warriors Memorial, located about a mile north of the new gallery at where Pridgeon’s portraits will be exhibited, beginning March 24.

Veteran groups Patriot Guard Riders and Rolling Thunder will have their motorcycle riders at the grand opening, beginning at 10 a.m.

Pridgeon mostly self-funds his works, but also said he accepts monetary donations to purchase canvas, paints and brushes.

For more information on how to donate, Whitfield can be contacted at ctw.whitfield@comcast.net. Donations are also accepted at www.portraitofawarrior.org/donate.