This is the maquette for the Leadership Memorial. It shows Major Richard D. Winters of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division leading the charge toward a German bunker on D-Day. (Kenneth Jessen)

Stephen Spears came from a military family that moved from place to place.

Ever since he was a child, he has been drawing. In Japan, Spears took ink painting classes and at age 8, took drawing classes in Texas. Yearbook covers and a comic strip characters followed in high school.

When he graduated, Spears was asked, "Now what are you going to do?" -- but he knew that art was his identity.

He selected a career in drafting and through hard work over many years, became an engineer. He worked as a contractor for big companies such as Siemens, Burrows and Bendix ending up at IBM's Custom Products Group.

Spears continued to create his own art and became aware that his work was sought after by collectors.

After many years in drafting and engineering, Spears set out to make a living as an artist.

He met some success selling his work at the Indian Market in Santa Fe, but what changed his life was meeting Wyoming sculptor Vic Payne.

Payne introduced Spears to the casting process. Spears realized that representational work must be pushed beyond reality to make it interesting.

A cancellation allowed Spears to attend the Scottsdale Artists School. Always seeking more education, Spears later spent time with Lincoln Fox at Fox's home near Paonia on Colorado's Western Slope.

Wisconsin native Gerald Balcier, well known in Loveland for his piece installed in the Benson Park Sculpture Garden as well as his yearly attendance at Sculpture in the Park, was next to influence Spears. Balcier told him, "You need to quit your job." Spears walked away from a steady paycheck in 1998 and started earning his living as an artist.

And finally, Spears credits Loveland's own Fritz White to help him with monument-size pieces.

As for his art, Spears says, "I have my own history to put into my work based on my military family. I love the research, and knowledge is a gift. I want my audience to see history through the eyes of the people who lived it, and I want to create work that will last beyond my lifetime. The places I have gone to install my art are priceless -- and I have a long list of other pieces I want to do."

What amazed Spears is that among the hundreds of monuments and plaques at Normandy, France, none commemorated the contributions of the United States Navy during the largest amphibious assault in history. Roughly one-fifth of all U.S. casualties on June 6, 1944, were Navy. Also, the other monuments were stone pillars, obelisks and plaques -- none showing human figures.

Spears changed this with three action figures representing the various jobs that had to be performed during the invasion. His greater than life-size piece was unveiled in September 2008 overlooking Utah Beach.

In addition to this monument, Spears created a tribute to the doughboy -- our infantry men during World War I. It was installed in 2007 at Cantigny, France, the site where the United States first entered the war.

He is about to begin what he terms an unusual monument to General Patton, to be installed at Nehou, France -- the point where Patton began his march to Germany.

Spears has a studio in Loveland, but his home is in Fairhope, Ala. To see his work, go to