It was a case of "readers to the rescue" last week when the Tucson Oddity column sought information on the origin of a little humanlike figure - made of old car parts and labeled "Brian."
Calls and e-mails from readers revealed a sad but also sweet story: The little figure is a lovingly rendered memorial to 24-year-old Brian Wilson, an expert auto mechanic who died in a motorcycle accident Dec. 20, 2008.
It was built by Brian's father, Larry Wilson, with help from family members and erected at the accident site in the 6800 block of East 22nd Street.
"I'm an electrical contractor, but I had done a lot of yard art, and this seemed like the right memorial for Brian," Wilson said.
"Using auto parts was natural - that was Brian's work," he said. "I used parts from his truck."
Wilson said the truck's sound-system speaker serves as the figure's head. A muffler forms the torso; springs stand in for legs; and shock absorbers represent the arms.
An especially touching detail: The name "Brian" on the front of the figure was etched onto a piece of metal by Brian himself a year or so before the accident.
"I just welded it onto the body," Wilson said.
He said he created the figure - often described as a "little robot" - shortly after the accident at the request of Brian's fiancée and friends.
Friends and family members - including Brian's mother, Elaine - said the memorial has helped them deal with the loss of Brian, who was an athlete during his years at Palo Verde High School.
Among the readers who informed us of the figure's origin was Diane Cushing, who wrote in an e-mail that "We all miss Brian very much. He was a special young man."
John Moses, who worked with Brian and called the Star to offer information on the memorial figure, described Brian as "a quality guy," who was skilled "beyond his years, for sure."
Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4192.