Missouri

KC artist created 'world's largest' goose. His daughters are raising money to save it

The "world's largest" Canada goose in Sumner, Mo., was created by Kansas City artist David Jackson in the mid 1970s.
The "world's largest" Canada goose in Sumner, Mo., was created by Kansas City artist David Jackson in the mid 1970s. Library of Congress

More than four decades ago, the small north central Missouri town of Sumner — the "Wild Goose Capital of the World" — turned to a Kansas City artist to create a sculpture celebrating the migratory bird.

Now, his three daughters are raising money to restore and preserve the beloved 40-foot-tall goose known as "Maxie."

Maxie, named after the scientific name for the giant Canada goose — branta canadensis maxima — perches on a pedestal in the center of a park in Sumner.

The town commissioned the sculpture in the mid-1970s, back when Canada geese migrated through there in peak populations of 150,000 to 200,000 per year, according to the Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Sumner. Sumner is also home to the Wild Goose Festival, held in late October each year.

Maxie's creator was David Jackson, an artist and lifelong Kansas City resident.

As a child, Debbie Jackson visited her father's studio in Westport, where he worked on the larger-than-life goose.

"I remember he was making different parts of it. There were these huge steel wings in his studio. I remember seeing him working on that and going down there and thinking what a little town it was," Jackson said.

Made of steel and fiberglass, Maxie appears to be taking off for flight with a 65-foot wingspan. Some reports suggest Maxie was flown by helicopter to her current spot in the Sumner park, though the sisters say there are conflicting stories, and believe that only a part of the bird was airlifted.

It wasn't long before Maxie's popularity took off in Sumner. The town and its top goose made a cameo in the movie "Different Flowers," by Morgan Dameron, who returned to her native Kansas City in 2016 to make the film.

Morgan Dameron and Jackson sisters
Maxie, the "world's largest" Canada goose in Sumner, Mo., made in an appearance last year in Morgan Dameron's movie, "Different Flowers." Last October, Dameron (second from left) met Denise Cummings, Dawna O’Donohue and Debbie Jackson — the daughters of David Jackson, the Kansas City man who created Maxie the goose in the 1970s. Courtesy of the family

Jackson, who lives in Belton, said her father died in 2013 at the age of 72, and now she and her sisters — Denise Cummings and Dawna O’Donohue, who also live in the Kansas City area — want to honor their father's work by preserving his legacy and bringing attention to the town where Maxie resides.

"After 43 years, the sculpture is now in need of major repairs and restoration with initial estimates of $30,000 and there are not enough funds available in the community where Maxie is located," Jackson wrote on a GoFundMe page last year.

The sisters are still raising money on GoFundMe, and are establishing a fund with the Chariton County Community Foundation so they can accept tax-deductible donations. Jackson said she hopes the fund will be ready for donations by the end of May.

Denise and Debbie
Denise Cummings (left) and Debbie Jackson, both from the Kansas City area, took a selfie in front of the "world's largest" Canada goose last summer in Sumner, Mo. The goose was created by their father David Jackson in the mid 1970s. Courtesy of the family

Last year, they raised more than $1,500 online. That goal was increased to $5,000 to cover costs associated with creating the fund with the foundation and determining legal ownership of Maxie — the group Missouri Community Betterment.

Once they reach their current goal, any leftover donations will go toward Maxie's restoration and maintenance costs. Jackson created a Facebook page for Maxie to keep her fans updated on her status.

When Jackson thinks of Maxie, she remembers her father. She also thinks of the countless people over the decades who've stopped to get their picture with the iconic goose.

"It's something really important to preserve," Jackson said, "not just for our dad, but for everybody."

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