In the disappearance and recovery of Windsor artist’s butterfly installation timing hard to ignore |

In the disappearance and recovery of Windsor artist’s butterfly installation timing hard to ignore

Allison Dyer Bluemel

For Windsor's Tena Cobb, co-creator of a stained glass and metal butterfly stolen two years ago, timing is everything.

Cobb's butterfly timeline began seven years from last Thursday when her daughter, Cinnamon Marie Wells, was killed in a hit and run crash in Greeley.

Cobb and her husband were devastated by the loss that left their family, including Wells' five-year-old son Jakobi Wells, with a hole in their lives.

So when a longtime friend of Cinnamon's, former Colorado Springs resident Marlena Whitt, asked Cobb to collaborate on a stained glass and metal butterfly for the Colorado Springs Rotary Club's annual Flight Gala and Auction two years ago, she jumped at the chance to create something in honor of her daughter.

Traditionally, the butterflies are strictly large-scale aluminum alloy canvases, however the pair departed from the typical, taking inspiration from Cinnamon's favorite room in her mother's Victorian-decorated room themed around peacocks.

Whitt cut out pieces of the butterfly's wings where Cobb placed peacock feather stained glass that would earn the piece it's name — More than Glass — for both its materials and sentimental value.

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"The butterfly was highly sought after by many in the Colorado Springs community simply because it was unlike any other butterfly that had been created," Whitt said.

Per usual, the butterflies for that year were placed out around the community in Colorado Springs prior to the event to raise awareness for the auction and show off the art.

However, for the first time in the history of the event, Cobb and Whitt's piece was stolen while on display in Old Colorado City.

"We both started bawling," Cobb said.

The pair and the rotary club reached out to local media and on social networking with photos, hoping someone would see the unique piece and turn it in.

"There was some media attention, but it slowly died down and the case went cold," Whitt said.

Two years went by and the artists mourned the loss of the butterfly and the memory it honored.

"To have something taken from us twice, first Cinnamon and then a butterfly in her honor, hit us both so hard," Whitt said.

Then Flight Chairman Jason Aguilar gave the two an unexpected phone call in July announcing that the butterfly had been found in a yard overgrown by weeds, but ultimately in one piece.

However, it took a bit of convincing to get Cobb, who typically avoids attention centered on her, to attend the celebration on Aug. 14 in Colorado Springs.

Ultimately, she agreed, but the ceremony thrown for Whitt and Cobb was unexpected.

The rotary club had enlisted the help of fellow butterfly maker Nancy Neale to restore the piece before its unveiling.

"She was beautiful," Whitt said. "More Than Glass looked exactly the way she was left over two years ago."

The timing of the reveal, so close to the anniversary of her daughter's death, did not escape Cobb.

"The timing on this thing is unreal," she said.

As she sat and talked about her daughter's life and the significance of the butterfly in honoring her, she was interrupted by a phone call from Whitt, who now lives in Tennessee.

"How do you explain these kind of things," Cobb said, clearing away tears from the conversation with Whitt. "That's why I started crying, she just knows what to say."

The two talked of how, even in her absence, Wells still impacted their lives daily, especially on the anniversary.

She will continue to do so thanks to the generous donation of the Rotary Club, which donated the butterfly to Cobb's home after Whitt asked if it could be sent home instead of to auction.

Aguilar cited the club's motto of service above self and announced that More Than Glass belonged to Cobb's family at the Aug. 14 ceremony.

"Tena broke down and we hugged knowing that this was closure in so many ways," Whitt said.

For Cobb, the decision came as a total surprise.

"I can't describe it. I can't come up with the words," she said.

Cobb was also surprised to see her grandson, Wells' son, at the ceremony as well.

"It is exciting to us to see him excited about the butterfly," Cobb said.

Within five minutes of Aguilar asking if Cobb knew where she would keep the butterfly, she knew.

The sculpture now sits in the corner of the yard in her Windsor home, a spot that she believes was set-aside for it as no plant has ever been able to grow there.

"Maybe it was supposed to be here all along," Cobb said. "It wouldn't have been as special if it hadn't been through what it's been through."

Flight information:

To learn more about the Colorado Springs Rotary Club’s Annual Flight Gala and Auction visit