Elliot Offner
Elliot Offner

Longtime Smith College professor Elliot Offner died Friday, October 15, 2012 at the age of 79. Mr. Offner, was a nationally known sculptor whose artwork is found in many private and public collections. His impressive work is locally known as well; the Great Blue Heron has resided in Darien for more than 20 years at Darien Library.

The Great Blue Heron sculpture was commissioned by Darien Library and was the first piece of public art in Darien. The dedication ceremony took place on May 31, 1987 and since then, the beloved sculpture has graced our courtyard. From its original perch in the courtyard at 35 Leroy Avenue, to its new home in the reflecting pool at the new Library, the heron has welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors to Darien Library.

Two years ago, when we were preparing to move to the new Library, among one of the biggest concerns voiced by our members was whether or not the heron would be moved, too. That is the language of community pride, of shared memories, of continuity, of roots. We are proud that Mr. Offner's Great Blue Heron has become a symbol of Darien Library and as always, we embrace its beauty, its strength, and its grace. We mourn the passing of Elliot Offner.

Smith College is home to our heron's twin, which resides on the campus in a small pond next to Victorian greenhouses. Smith's moving tribute to Mr. Offner includes a description of the Great Blue Heron: " ...with its exhilarating and unfolding of wings and elastic curve of neck --lithe and filled with potential." 

The New York Times' obituary of Mr. Offner. A website displaying Professor Offner's work has been established.