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Baytown man paints portraits of fallen Texas heroes

Sunday, May 26, 2013

State lawmakers honored a Baytown man who spends his time painting portraits of fallen service members.

It's a pastime of importance, especially this Memorial Day weekend.

His name is Ken Pridgeon Sr. He's an artist, but that's not how he describes himself.

"I'm a poor man's Norman Rockwell," he said.

Most important is his mission.

"I paint our fallen heroes of Texas."

Pridgeon gives one version of the portrait to the service member's family. Another remains at the Portrait of a Warrior art gallery in Baytown.

"The gallery is full, overflowing," he said. "I've done over 100. There's over 700 that's been killed. The hurrier I go, the behinder I get."

This spring, Pridgeon was honored for his work on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives.

"They just called me up and said, 'We need you at the capitol.' They said, 'We're going to recognize you at the capitol,' and I said, 'OK, I'll come,'" Pridgeon said.

He makes light of it, but his friends know better.

"A proclamation was given to him, and what an honor," Vietnam veteran Rick Gutierrez said. "You know? Not only is he known by the people in Baytown, but Austin."

"Every time I come here, I feel at home," Baytown resident Conrad Garciasaid. "I feel the presence of all these individuals in all these portraits."

Pridgeon thinks of them as his own children and has a message this Memorial Day.

"My kids here gave it all," he said. "They're the reason that our streets are safe for us."

Find Elissa on Facebook at ABC13ElissaRivas or on Twitter at @elissa_rivas13

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