photo by Chris Gimmeson, Buffalo Bill Historical Center
My father passed away on Monday April 25th, 2011 after a long, rich, tumultuous life. He was 87.
He was a force of nature, full of rage, love, humor, and madness. And he burned at an intensity that few could withstand for very long. A war-decorated WWII Marine who served on the front lines in the Pacific, he endured lifelong consequences from head injuries suffered during the amphibious assault at Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll. Epileptic seizures and uncontrolled rage marred many episodes in his life after the war.
He was a walking paradox. He was brilliant in his artistic life, yet unable to recognize and receive proper treatment for his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. One minute, he would bring a complete stranger into his innermost circle; and the next, he wouldn’t trust even those closest to him.
He leaves a creative legacy marked by astounding courage and accomplishment. His artistic career spans six decades, with work that covers an incredibly wide spectrum: from the early Marine works (we was a combat artist), through the abstract expressionist paintings that were featured in Life Magaine, all the way to his much celebrated western art.
All of his children would like to extend their deep gratitude to his staff (in Italy and in Cody) for their invaluable contributions, especially during these last years of his life. Their respect and loyalty never wavered during these challenging years, and that is a rarity these days.
I live in Cody and have spent much of the last year with him. My brothers and sisters have been visiting him over the last year. During the last week several of us were with him almost continually. We have a complicated relationship with him that resists an easy short summation but we all believe he is finally at peace. This much is indisputable: He was a profoundly gifted, larger than life, creative maverick, and anyone who met him will remember the mark he left on their lives.
There will be further information on a public service to celebrate his life, in the weeks to come. I welcome any memories or stories of my Dad or of his art work. You may leave them in the comments section below. The comments are moderated so there may be a few days delay before they appear on the blog.
Molly, Jesse, Luke, Chloe and I thank everyone for their warm wishes at this time.