BAYTOWN, Texas - Ken Pridgeon is on a mission to paint 600 portraits for Gold Star families whose loved ones lost their lives in war.
"People call me a hero and I don't know what a hero is," said Pridgeon.
Portrait of a Warrior Memorial Art Gallery, located on Texas Avenue in Baytown, displays fallen service men and women from different cities across Texas.
The 82-year-old dedicates his time to giving families lasting memories of their loved ones -- acrylic paintings of the veterans. He has painted 300 so far.
“I can't paint all the tragedies in life, but I can paint a few," said Pridgeon.
Pridgeon makes it a point to read their stories, learn their activities and get to know what they were like in order to paint a full picture of the joyful moments that made the loved ones who they were.
"We remember them with their stories the good ones, where they're having a good time," he said.
In spite of Pridgeon’s selfless acts, pictures outside of the gallery were vandalized last night. Paintings of soldiers apparently with cigarette burn marks, now stain the faces of some of those soldiers.
"I can't imagine somebody wanting to do something like that," said Pridgeon.
Pridgeon's "right hand man," loyal volunteer, Cliff Willson, said they have been overwhelmed with support from the community.
“We're still getting calls of people wanting to know what they can do to help," Willson said.
People have called wanting to donate money for an alarm and security system. A volunteer said they are hoping to get a bigger space to put the growing number of portraits Pridgeon is painting. Many of the portraits are stacked on top of each other.
Pridgeon started his mission painting fallen soldiers in 2010 and has gained national exposure.
"Never ever give up. especially if you have a goal such as I have of painting all of the 600 that have been killed with Texas," Pridgeon said.
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