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Landmark Bob Hope statue returns home

The statue of Bob Hope stands tall and proud in Tina and Norm Hamilton’s front yard off of Latham Road. But, Bob went missing for the past year and it took some digging before he came home.
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 2:38 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - A simple idea becomes a community landmark, one that’s stood for more than 40 years. One Rockford family’s love for comedian Bob Hope is put into a statue that disappeared for the past year.

The statue of Bob Hope stands tall and proud in Tina and Norm Hamilton’s front yard off of Latham Road. But, Bob went missing for the past year and it took some digging before he came home.

The Bob Hope statue’s story started when Melvin Knudson felt inspired to create him after returning from World War ll.

“Bob Hope always did his open here in Rockford and my dad went several times to the Bob Hope opening,” said Mark Knudson, son of Melvin. “I think he went every time and got to shake his hand, got his pictures taken with, got autograph books.”

The statue lived a long and happy life off Latham Road for years but then, the Knudson family decided to sell the house, Bob along with it.

“I was on Facebook and I seen there was an estate sale and I seen that Bob was in the front and I jokingly said to my wife I said we’re going to this estate sale, I’m gonna buy Bob,” said Rick Aronica, temporary owner of Bob Hope statue.

Sure enough, Rick Aronica took Bob home, that’s when people in the community started to notice.

“There was a post about Bob, said what happened to Bob he’s not on Latham road anymore, he went missing, and I had a friend of mine tag me, cuz I didn’t even know about it and I said well I got him, he’s at my house,” Aronica said.

Bob stayed with Aronica for nearly a year. Meanwhile, Tina and Norm Hamilton purchased the Latham Road house.

“I get a message, a Facebook message from Norm here saying hey I hear you have Bob, if you ever decide you wanna let Bob go, let me know,” Aronica said.

“It means a lot that he’s back home, he is part of this house, he is part of the community and I always look at Rockfordians as they call us now, you know, everyone knows who Bob is, and it’s just good that he’s home again,” said Tina Hamilton.

Tina and Norm feel grateful to have found Bob. They say because of him, they now have new friends and look forward to meeting others in the community excited about Bob’s return.

The Hamilton’s say Bob has a forever home in their front yard. They plan to maintain the statue by applying new coats of paint and replacing any parts needed over the years.

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