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Mural planned to honor 'Voice of the 500' Bob Jenkins

The town of Liberty plans to honor its favorite son with a 15-by-54-foot mural on the side of Woodruff's Supermarket on Main Street.

LIBERTY, Ind. — For decades, Bob Jenkins' voice inspired so many race fans to love the Indianapolis 500 just as much as he did. 

Now the late, legendary broadcaster is getting a heartfelt tribute in his hometown of Liberty, Indiana.

Jenkins spent his career calling historic finishes as the "Voice of the 500."

"I know his voice for sure," said Jennifer Woodruff, co-owner of Woodruff's Supermarket in Liberty.

"His statement says it all. 'I was just a race fan that got lucky,'" added Melissa Browning, director of the Union County Development Corporation.

On television and on radio, Jenkins provided the soundtrack of the Speedway for generations of fans all across the country.

Making the greatest spectacle in racing that much more special.

RELATED: 'What a ride it's been' | Dave Calabro shares his memories of Indy 500 announcer Bob Jenkins

But here's the thing about Jenkins – as famous as he became, he was still a small-town Hoosier at heart. He stayed connected to the community that raised him.

"Never ever forgot where he came from," Browning said. "He cared about this community."

"My dad went to high school with him," Woodruff said. "There was a little sign over by the courthouse when I was a kid, saying, 'Home of Bob Jenkins, Voice of the 500.'"

"We went to test and tune day years ago in Indianapolis and when we said we were from Liberty, he came out of the tower to talk to us. That's the kind of person he was," Browning said.

This year's Indy 500 will be the first without Jenkins at the track.

He passed away in August after a battle with brain cancer, but his legacy will live on in Liberty. The town plans to honor its favorite son with a 15-by-54-foot mural on the side of Woodruff's Supermarket on Main Street.

"You know, we're right in the center of town and everyone will see it and people that knew Bob will be able to remember him," Woodruff said.

Credit: WTHR
Pamela Bliss is the artist who will be painting the Bob Jenkins mural in Liberty, Indiana.

It will be painted on a two-story wall by artist Pamela Bliss, who has painted several famous Hoosier faces.

"Well in Indianapolis, I've done Reggie MIller, Eva Kor, jazz musicians," Bliss said. "I've done John Mellencamp in Seymour, Indiana."

Now the side of Woodruff's Supermarket will showcase Jenkins' face, represent his time at the track with the pagoda and share inspiring words for young people in Liberty to "Dare to Dream," just like he did.

Credit: Visit Indiana
Pamela Bliss is the artist behind the mural on the side of This Old Guitar Music Store in Seymour.

Bliss is studying pictures and video of Jenkins to get the mural just right.

"For those who knew him, I hope that it brings back a lot of memories for them," Bliss said. "When you look at it, I want you to be able to say, 'Oh, that's Bob!'"

The project isn't a done deal just yet. Community leaders have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the mural.

Jenkins' former co-workers, IndyCar drivers and race fans are all donating toward the cause.

"We've gotten $1,000 donations. We've gotten $5 donations, I mean, it's been all over the board," Browning said.

RELATED: Racing world mourns passing of Bob Jenkins

She's confident they'll cross the finish line and create the larger-than-life tribute to a Liberty legend who fell in love with the 500 in a small town in Union County and went on to share it with the world.

"I think our community owes him this," Browning said. "A lot of people know his voice, but didn't know his face and that is true. Now they will. Now they will."

To learn more about the mural project or to contribute to the fundraiser, click here.

Donations are also being accepted at the Union County Development Corporation, 5 West High Street, Liberty, IN 47353

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