Norma “Duffy” Lyon, whose cow sculptures made of butter were for decades a big draw at the Iowa State Fair, died of a stroke on Sunday at 81.
Even outside the state, Lyon’s work was the stuff of folklore.
But while she normally steered clear of politics, Lyon was inspired by Barack Obama’s insurgent presidential candidacy in 2007.
“Barack Obama’s got a real plan for rural America. And it’s gutsy, because it looks out for us, not lobbyists,” Lyon intoned on a radio ad released by the Obama campaign in October of that year, just when he was beginning to pick up steam ahead of his stunner caucus victory in January that propelled him, eventually, to the Democratic nomination.
“But the best part is he listened, and knows our kids need opportunity here in Iowa so they don’t have to leave home to follow their dreams — even that if that dream is 500 pounds of butter, shaped like a cow,” she goes on.
Duffy was a key cultural validator for the exotic-sounding Obama right when he needed voters in the state to become more comfortable with him.
Obama carried Iowa by nearly ten points in the 2008 general election.