National Emmy-winning Extra: 'Portrait of Compassion'

4:11 PM, Mar 1, 2010   |    comments
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Bad news rolled into Northome, Minnesota on November 17, 2003.

It stopped for directions at the post office, headed east out of town past the high school, and then bad news turned in the driveway of Arland and Karen Panchot.

"I seen those two soldiers there and I knew what had happened," said Arland.

Arland and Karen both knew. All that was left to learn were the details of how their son Dale had died in Iraq. The Bradley Fighting Vehicle he was riding in was hit by a rocket propelled grenade.

"Our son was the third soldier killed from Minnesota," said Karen.

Now three years later, the same rural roads that carried bad news to Northome, in a sense are bringing Dale Panchot back home.

"It's going to be a surprise when that truck pulls up," said Arland, as he waited anxiously for a morning delivery.

Eyes would be wider still if they could back up the delivery truck two weeks, and somehow see the woman delivering their son.

Kaziah Hancock shares a ranch with 100 goats at the base of a Mountain in Utah. She is an artist and she is as colorful as the palette she paints from.

"Kaziah cooks. She starts cranking, she cooks," the artist says about herself to no one in particular as she attacks the canvas in front of her.

On her easel is a partially finished portrait of Staff Sergeant Dale Panchot.

"What a sweet guy," she said. "I believe he really is a guy that would give the shirt off his back."

Kaziah should know about giving, she is doing plenty of it herself these days.

It started three years ago when a tearful Kaziah painted a portrait of Utah?s first deceased soldier, then kept going. Today she?s completed nearly 250 portraits of soldiers, airmen and Marines from nearly every state.

"At least it's a way to say, ?Hey I love you kiddo,'" said Kaziah, as she held up another recently finished portrait.

Like the others, it will never be sold or displayed by Kaziah. Each soldier portrait is framed and shipped by Kaziah to surviving family members no cost.

"You get to go home to Mama," said Kaziah, as she closed the shipping carton on one of her recently completed works.

Kaziah can't begin to estimate the income she has forfeited, painting deceased sons and daughters instead of the landscapes and portraits she normally sells for thousands of dollars. Yet all she has to do is read the thank you notes from grateful families, and her inner banker goes on permanent holiday.

"It's not some God damn sacrifice, and it's not pain and misery that I have to go through," said Kaziah.

"I?m not in misery, I'm working for a friend. They're my buddies. We got a good thing going. This is a partnership. This is a team," she said, referring to the subject of her touching portraits.

Long ago a bout with ovarian cancer left Kaziah unable to have children of her own. Minnesota?s Dale Panchot, the soldier currently on her easel, is just her latest adopted son.

It?s a relationship that will leave her both happier and sad.

"Because he just should have been a daddy, he should have been a husband, until he's 80 years old, I would have so loved not to have painted him."

Kaziah figured out years ago that an artist can do little to stop a war. Her gift would be the deliveries to the people left to battle at home.

Arland and Karen Panchot were both at their rural Northome home when the delivery truck pulled in their driveway.

They ripped off the wrapping on the package, and then Karen hesitated for an instant before opening the box.

"Oh, that is awesome," she said as she and Arland got their first look at the portrait of their son.

Attached to the painting was a hand-written note. It read, "May you feel your son?s love everyday. God bless you, Love Kaziah."

The Karen and Arland have never met Kaziah Hancock and probably never will. But two parents who can't take their eyes off the image of their son is proof that a hug can extend from Utah all the way to the Land of 10,000 Stories.

"He's here. And that's important to me," said Karen.

Kindness is a virtue. But on a ranch in Utah compassion is an art.

For more information on Kaziah and the other artists who have joined her to form 'Project Compassion' visit the following Web site

By Boyd Huppert, KARE 11 News

(Copyright 2006 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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