How Charles Wysocki, the Painter of Americana, Died on His Wedding Anniversary

Charles Wysocki was a popular American painter who created whimsical and nostalgic scenes of American life in a primitive style. His paintings featured horse and buggy rides, barns, cats, flags, and other rural motifs that evoked a simpler and happier time. His work was widely admired and collected by millions of fans, including former President Ronald Reagan. But how did this beloved artist die, and what was the tragic coincidence of his death date?

A Successful Career in Art and Merchandising

Charles Wysocki was born in 1928 in Detroit, Michigan, to Polish immigrant parents. He showed an early interest in art and studied at Cass Technical High School and later at the ArtCenter College of Design in Los Angeles. He served in the Army during the Korean War and then worked as a commercial illustrator for various clients, such as General Tire, Unocal, Carnation, Chrysler, and Dow Chemical.

In 1960, he married Elizabeth Lawrence, an art graduate from UCLA, who introduced him to the rural life of her family in the San Fernando Valley. They also made frequent trips to New England, where they collected antiques and visited historical places. These experiences inspired Wysocki to develop his own style of primitive art, depicting Americana landscapes and scenes with a charming and upbeat touch.

Wysocki decided to leave commercial art and focus on his Americana paintings, which he sold in prints, calendars, puzzles, collector plates, and other products. He also had a gallery in Lake Arrowhead, California, where he displayed his original acrylic paintings. His work was very popular and profitable, earning him more than $7 million in annual sales by the 1980s. He was featured in People magazine in 1986 and invited to the White House by Reagan in 1981. He said he liked the fact that he appealed to the average guy and felt fortunate for his success.

A Longtime Stomach Ailment and a Fatal Surgery

Wysocki’s life and career were not without challenges, however. He suffered from a chronic stomach condition that caused him pain and discomfort for many years. He tried various treatments and medications, but none of them cured his ailment. He also faced some criticism from the art world, which dismissed his work as kitsch and commercial. He did not let these obstacles deter him from pursuing his passion and vision.

In 2002, Wysocki decided to undergo surgery to remove part of his stomach and hopefully end his suffering. The surgery was risky, but he was optimistic and hopeful. He told his wife and children that he loved them and that he would see them soon. He also said that he had many more paintings to do and that he was looking forward to creating them.

Unfortunately, the surgery did not go as planned. Wysocki developed complications and infections that worsened his condition. He was transferred to the intensive care unit, where he remained for several days. His family and friends prayed for his recovery, but it was not meant to be. Wysocki passed away on July 29, 2002, at the age of 73.

A Heartbreaking Coincidence of His Death Date

Wysocki’s death was a shock and a loss for his family, friends, and fans. He was remembered as a kind, generous, and talented man who brought joy and beauty to the world with his paintings. He was buried at the Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, California, where his grave is marked by a simple stone with his name and dates.

What makes his death even more heartbreaking is the fact that he died on the same date as his wedding anniversary. He and his wife Elizabeth had been married for 42 years, and they had planned to celebrate their anniversary with a dinner at their favorite restaurant. Instead, they spent their last moments together in the hospital, where Elizabeth held his hand and told him how much she loved him.

Wysocki’s death on his anniversary was a tragic coincidence that added to the sorrow of his passing. His wife Elizabeth said that it was the worst day of her life, but also the best day, because she knew that he was no longer in pain and that he was in a better place. She said that she felt his presence and his love every day, and that she was grateful for the time they had together.

Wysocki’s legacy lives on through his paintings, which continue to inspire and delight millions of people around the world. His work captures the essence of American life and values, and reflects his own spirit and personality. He once said, “I hope my paintings bring a smile to the face and a warmth to the heart of those who view them.” He certainly achieved that goal, and more.

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