Today, as part of our ongoing centennial celebration, Boys Town unveiled a new statue. Though the sculpture may be new, it is inspired by a well-known work of art — which was inspired by the iconic words that have come to symbolize Boys Town:
“He ain’t heavy, Father… he’s my brother.”
Boys Town began as a single small boarding house in downtown Omaha, Nebraska, in 1917. One hundred years later, it is one of America’s largest child and family service organizations, with campuses from coast to coast. And, just as Boys Town has evolved over the past century, so too has one of our most recognizable symbols.
So, in honor of our 100th anniversary, we have reimagined our famous “Two Brothers” statue as “The Work Continues” — a modern representation of the care we provide to boys and girls across the country. The power of the original statue’s story remains, but our new statue, featuring a brother and sister design, enables us to show our continued commitment to all children, as well as their families.
About the Artist/Sculptor
Matthew Placzek has been translating his fascination with sculptural composition into inspiring works of art for more than three decades. The Omaha-based sculptor’s work is prominently showcased outside various venues throughout the city. He has also created smaller pieces that are on display at more than 20 universities and hospitals around the country, as well as at several international companies. Placzek was commissioned to create “The Work Continues” in 2012, sculpting three large versions of the statue, which served as models for smaller versions.
Funding Our New Statues: Gifts from the Heart
Two of the three new “The Work Continues” statues were funded through the generosity of Boys Town supporters Cindy and Mogens Bay and Dr. Leo and Susan McCarthy.
Mogens Bay, Chairman and CEO of Valmont Industries in Omaha, has served on the Boys Town Board of Trustees since 2013. When Bay learned of plans for the new statue, he and his wife Cindy offered to pay for one statue and dedicate it to Tony and Simone Jones, a longtime Boys Town Family-Teaching Couple. (Tony is a former youth resident and graduate of Boys Town.)
“Tony and Simone really love those kids,” Bay said. “Kids that are not exposed to love and respect when they’re young most likely would be incapable of giving it when they grow up. And Tony and Simone are the poster couple for how to do that. They’ve been doing it for many years, and they do it incredibly well.”
Dr. Leo McCarthy’s relationship with Boys Town dates to his childhood.
Growing up in Omaha, the home where McCarthy was raised by his grandfather and grandmother was just a few doors down from the home of legendary Boys Town coach Maurice “Skip” Palrang. McCarthy’s grandfather, Michael “Hank” Cruise, knew Boys Town founder Father Edward Flanagan, and he helped the priest find the farmland west of Omaha where the Village of Boys Town stands today.
An all-state athlete at Omaha Creighton Prep, McCarthy worked as an athletic assistant at Boys Town in the 1950s and later trained with Boys Town track coach George Pfeifer, whose guidance helped McCarthy set the track record in the 100-yard dash at Creighton University in 1959. McCarthy also remembers attending midnight Mass at Boys Town and listening to the Boys Town Choir at Christmas.
McCarthy, now living in Indianapolis, has maintained his relationship with Boys Town over the years. When the opportunity to fund one of the new statues came along, McCarthy said he had an “epiphany,” realizing what a profound effect Boys Town had had on his life. “I felt I should fund the statue and dedicate it to my grandfather,” he said.
To preserve our legacy as our mission grows, Boys Town’s “Two Brothers” statue will remain a central part of our history. In fact, both statues — “The Work Continues” and “Two Brothers” — will be on permanent display in the Village of Boys Town.
“The Work Continues” was officially dedicated during an unveiling ceremony on June 6, 2017.