Monday, July 5, 2010

An Obituary

A few days after Dad died, I needed to write his obituary for the local paper and the funeral home's website. I thought it would be more appropriate to talk personally on my own blog and in my eulogy, so I kept this as straightforward as possible. Consider it a "just the facts" primer:
John Schoenherr, Caldecott and Hugo Award-winning artist, died April 8, 2010, at Triumph Hospital in Easton, PA. He was 74.

Born July 5, 1935, in New York City, NY, he was the son of John Ferdinand and Frances Braun Schoenherr. He studied at the Art Students' League, and was a graduate of Stuyvesant High School (1952) and Pratt Institute (BFA, 1956). After living in Woodside and Long Island City, NY, he moved to a Delaware Township, NJ, farm in 1964.

Mr. Schoenherr devoted his recent years to wildlife painting, but spent decades working as an illustrator. The notable children's books he illustrated include Rascal by Sterling North, Gentle Ben by Walt Morey, The Fox and the Hound by Daniel P. Mannix, Incident at Hawk's Hill by Allan W. Eckert, Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George, and Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, for which he won the Randolph Caldecott Medal, awarded annually by the American Library Association to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. He also wrote and illustrated The Barn, Bear, and Rebel.

His science fiction illustrations earned him a Hugo Award and he was the first artist to depict the worlds of Frank Herbert's Dune and Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern. Herbert is said to have credited him as "the only man who has ever visited Dune."

Over the years, Mr. Schoenherr was an avid hiker, spelunker, and photographer, and his pictorial research took him to such places as Iran, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the American West. He was a member of the Society of Illustrators, the Society of Animal Artists, the Society of Mammalogists, and was also an advisor to the Friends of the Locktown Stone Church.

Surviving him are his wife of 49 years, Judith Gray Schoenherr; a daughter, Jennifer Schoenherr Aiello of Frenchtown, NJ; a son, Ian Schoenherr of Woodside, NY; three grandchildren, Nyssa Retter, Emily Hargrave, and Samuel Aiello; and two great-grandchildren, Rivers and Eliza.

Memorial contributions may be made to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Bamboo Brook, 170 Longview Road, Far Hills, NJ 07931.

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