Four men — the late Steven Farmer, the late Carmine Infantino, Jim Hambrick and the late Bob Westerfield — were honored for their various roles in the City of Metropolis’ Superman history.
“Every year, we have people that you folks don’t see,” said celebration co-organizer Lisa Gower. “They are behind the scenes. They live in our Metropolis. They are all about superman — they live it, they breathe it, they support it. They are awesome people to have in our community. This year we lost one of those folks. You all probably never saw him but he represented everything about Superman that is good.”
Farmer passed away in February. A Metropolis native, he delighted in all things Superman, displaying the Superman shield on all his vehicles and purchasing anything he could find with the Superman logo. He even donned the costume and made an appearance one year at a school or two. He also held a “funeral” at the Superman statue when the Man of Steel met his comic book demise in November 1992.
“We will deeply miss Steve. He was truly a behind-the-scenes person and he was a superman for Metropolis,” Gower said.
His family — his wife of 30 years, Sandy; his children, Emily, Racheal Gower with husband Andrew and stepson Haydn and Ethan — was presented a Superman of Metropolis award in Farmer’s memory.
Infantino was a Superman Celebration guest in 2010.
“He was one of my favorite guests we have ever had,” Gower said.
A legendary artist, to many Infantino had a large part in helping comic books survive. He started his comics career in the 1940s drawing Airboy and The Heap for Hillman. He soon came to DC where he became a regular on the Golden Age Black Canary, Green Lantern, Justice Society of America and the Flash. In 1964, he was asked to try to bring the fading Batman titles back to life. While Batman is one of several comic book characters Infantino had a hand in recreating, over his career he personally created about 50 characters. He retired from being a comic book artist in 1990. He passed away in April.
Infantino was instrumental in getting the City of Metropolis named the Home of Superman. In the early-1970s, he was publisher at National Periodicals.
“He fought very hard working with all the people there to get it going,” Gower said of his involvement. “We feel his loss at the Celebration, especially since he was at the very first ceremony we had where we were named the Home of Superman. We do want to recognize his loss and we appreciate everything he’s done. Without him, you folks wouldn’t be standing here and neither would we.”
The evening’s second recipient of a Superman of Metropolis award was Hambrick.
“He may not originally have been local, but he is definitely local now,” Gower said. “He has a vision for Metropolis with Superman that is just amazing to me. I said to him one time, he not only put in one tourist attraction in Metropolis, he put in two, and that takes a pretty brave person to do that. He’s fought long and hard for everything Superman with Metropolis and we appreciate him more than he knows.”
The owner of the Super Museum who later opened Americana Hollywood, Hambrick moved from California to Metropolis some 20 years ago.
“It’s been a long road, which started way before I got here,” he said, crediting Westerfield for his move.
“Bob Westerfield called me up way back when and said, ‘We want you in Metropolis, we want to do this and that,’” Hambrick recalled. “It sounded it exciting, but at the time I had too many roots and too much going on in California. The years kept going by and I kept getting the phone calls. He sent me a scrapbook and wanted me to look at it. He was all about Metropolis being home of Superman and Superman promoting good will in Metropolis. He went to Carmine and made the deal on behalf of Metropolis. He was also the person who got it through the House of Representatives and made it official on Jan. 22, 1972. It was about carrying the torch, keeping the legend alive.”
Hambrick said when he decided to make the move, it took him a year to pack then an additional three years and five 55-foot semis to move his Superman collection and other Hollywood memorabilia. The Super Museum marks its 20th anniversary this year.
“Bob convinced me, even bribed me with some of the collections out of the Amazing World of Superman — the Westerfield family was gracious enough to acknowledge that, I appreciate that,” Hambrick continued. “It’s been a long hard road. The museum will always be here. I appreciate all the new and the familiar faces coming here. We have a big family and it grows every year. I want to thank you for that.”
Westerfield was the evening’s final honoree.
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