Isabella Cannon’s Bust: Stolen then Found

Julia Mueller
April 12, 2013

Isabella Cannon in 1978Isabella Walton Cannon was a beloved Elon alumnus, Class of 1924, who served as a role model to many.  She became involved in public service and worked around the world.  In 1977, Cannon made the last minute decision to run for mayor of Raleigh, North Carolina against the incumbent Jyles J. Coggins, and won with 52% of the vote.  This caused Cannon to become an immediate national celebrity as she was the first female mayor of Raleigh.  Cannon continued to serve the community after her term and founded the Isabella Cannon Leadership Program at Elon in 1989.  The same year, on Thursday, October 19, the Isabella Cannon bust was stolen from its wooden pedestal in the Isabella Cannon room in the Center for the Arts building.

Sculptures at Elon were vandalized the previous year and found in the bottom of Lake Mary Nell, which is why the Isabella Cannon bust was suspected to be there as well.  On November 16, 1989, the bust was found off Highway 61 in a rock quarry.  A tip was given the week before with the location of the missing sculpture.  Apparently, the bust was stolen as a prank.  Minor damage was present but was easily repaired.  There were no leads as to who stole the bust, but Pat Kinney, former director of publications and public information, acknowledged that many people had keys to the building.  Ray Johnson, a communications professor, commented on the lacking security.  Another scenario offered was that the building remained unlocked throughout the night.  The bust is now displayed in its original space.


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