Treasured memorial of mother is stolen

The bronze bust vanishes in the night from outside the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor.

Published December 13, 2005

TAMPA - Richard Gonzmart doesn't care who stole the bronze bust of his mother Adela outside the family-owned Columbia Restaurant over the weekend.

He just wants them to give it back.

"I'll forgive the person who did it," said Gonzmart, a fourth-generation owner of the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. "I hope they will just return it. They can just leave it at the front door and take off. That's all I'm asking."

Someone stole the bust of Adela Gonzmart outside 2117 E Seventh Ave. sometime after 2 a.m. Sunday, said Tampa police spokesman Joe Durkin. Employees who left that night didn't notice it missing.

Durkin said the location is out of view of the city's surveillance cameras along Seventh Avenue. Police have no suspects or leads.

Sculptor Steven Dickey said he broke the mold after creating the bust. It was dedicated in June 2003 and placed next to a bust of Cesar Gonzmart, Adela's husband. Dickey also created Cesar Gonzmart's bust, dedicated 10 years before the one for his wife.

Durkin said the bust was valued at $3,000. Vandals also did about $2,000 in damage to its pedestal, he said.

With the mold destroyed, Dickey said it's irreplaceable. Creating a new mold could take up to eight months.

"The real intrinsic value is what it meant to the family and to have that in front of the Columbia Restaurant," Dickey said.

To Richard Gonzmart, it meant a lot.

The fourth anniversary of his mother's death is next week. To further deepen his frustration, the Columbia is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

"This is a very sad way to end the year," Gonzmart said. "It's just really a sign of disrespect for my mother."

--Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this story. Kevin Graham can be reached at 813 226-3433 or kgraham@sptimes.com