SUNNYSIDE -- Bonnie Dunbar went from farm girl who read about the stars to an astronaut who visited them.
A new bronze statue proposed for Sunnyside will depict both aspects of her life.
The Sunnyside Community Foundation is raising money for a statue of Outlook's most famous daughter at the entrance to Central Park.
The project -- two statues, actually -- would feature an adult Dunbar wearing a space suit next to a child version of herself sitting on a hay bale reading a book about space.
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It is the fourth bronze for the foundation and the first to depict a living person.
Dunbar said she previewed the statue's design, but relied on her mother, Ethel, to confirm its accuracy.
Dunbar, who flew five space missions between 1985-98, said she relished any opportunity to use her fame to persuade children to dream big, work hard and pursue careers in math and science.
"I can talk to kids who have never seen the Milky Way," she said.
Organizers said they chose Dunbar because of her humble roots as much as her stellar career.
"If ever there was a positive role model to our children, Bonnie Dunbar is it," said Kathy Mears, chairwoman of the statue committee and a former 4-H friend of Dunbar's.
Dunbar grew up on a homestead farm in Outlook, an unincorporated community northwest of Sunnyside, spending the first few years of her life in a home without electricity and learning the value of hard work. She cut asparagus before school as a child and slept under the stars when summer nights were too hot indoors.
The ranch was so isolated that monthly visits from the library's bookmobile were among her favorite summer events. She favored science fiction authors such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.
She worked and saved for college, but also received scholarships for good grades and high SAT scores. She now holds a doctorate from the University of Houston. After her NASA career, she served as president and CEO of the Seattle Museum of Flight and now owns a consulting firm.
The Sunnyside Community Foundation started when volunteers began looking for ways to celebrate the city's 2002 centennial anniversary of incorporation.
They renovated Snipes Cabin and put up a bronze statue of Ren Ferrell, a foreman for Ben Snipes, who pioneered cattle ranching in the area. About the same time they built Centennial Park, which features a statue of irrigation proponent H. Lloyd Miller. Later they added a bronze statue in Central Park of a young girl milking a cow.
The foundation raises funds through the families of the people depicted in bronze, community donations and selling table-top bronze models for $3,000 each.
Each time, the city purchases one model for the Sunnyside Museum.
"These have to be supported by the community or they don't happen," said Bill Flower, one of the foundation's longtime leaders.
Sunnyside's Desiree Dawn sculpted the Dunbar statue. It will be poured at a foundry in Joseph, Ore.
The foundation is trying to raise more than $90,000 for the statue and are about halfway there, Mears said.