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New structure for eternal flame tradition

As part of Homecoming 2015, Baylor University and the Baylor Chamber of Commerce unveiled a six-foot by nine-foot artistic structure to immortalize the University's Eternal Flame tradition. A revered part of Homecoming, the Eternal Flame tradition honors the lives of Baylor basketball players, known as the Immortal Ten, who were killed in a bus-train accident in 1927.

The structure was made possible by generous financial support from Bob, BBA '79, JD '80, and Brenda Barkley; Sue Getterman, BA '50; Andy, BBA '87, and Kathy Spencer; and the Baylor Chamber of Commerce and more than 300 hours of design and craftsmanship from Bryant Stanton of Stanton Studios and John Nickell of Nickell Metalsmiths. The 1,600-pound structure combines iron and sculpted steel to create three artistic flames surrounding a propane-fueled center torch. The design symbolizes the relationship between the past, present and future of this tradition.

Artisans with Stanton Studios, a family owned and operated woodworking and metalworking business founded in 1979, are nationally respected for their craftsmanship with stained glass, woodworking and metalworking. Stanton works alongside his four sons to create original works of art for private residences, public, corporate and church settings.

"Steeped in significance, the Eternal Flame has persisted, even evolved, at pivotal moments in Baylor history. The earliest memorial ceremonies for the Immortal Ten involved candlelight vigils, wherein the Flame was passed from student to student," said Matt Burchett, director of student activities and faculty adviser for Baylor Chamber of Commerce.

Since 1947, the story of the Immortal Ten has been retold annually during Freshman Mass Meeting, and the Flame, which was housed in a metal canister known as a smudge pot, was handed down to the incoming class as a symbolic welcome into the Baylor family.

In 2009, the tradition evolved from the use of a smudge pot to the iconic passing of a torch, to honor the words of former Baylor President Samuel Palmer Brooks: "To you seniors of the past, of the present, of the future, I entrust the care of Baylor University. To you I hand the torch."

Burchett said, "The new sculpture is the immortalization of this tradition that connects and inspires generations of the Baylor family. We are grateful to the donors and to the craftsmen at Stanton Studios and Nickell Metalsmiths for bringing this vision to life and are excited to introduce this new expression of an important tradition to students, alumni and friends at Homecoming."