Monday, March 15, 2010

Jack Welch: Some Early History

As promised when I last posted about him in January, here is some additional background information on Jack Welch, courtesy of his son-in-law, Bob, who enclosed the photo of the artist and the high school yearbook artwork you see below. Many thanks, Bob!

Bob writes, "Jack was born in Cleburne, Texas in 1905, the last of 5 children (he had two brothers and two sisters, the oldest of whom was 20 years Jack’s senior). Jack’s father was a grocer. Jack went to high school in Temple, Texas and was the illustrator for the yearbook. His drawings in the yearbook clearly foreshadow the style that was to come."

"Jack wanted to go to art school after high school, but the local minister told his family that being an artist was not a suitable profession so his parents sent Jack to SMU. He lasted a year there, but his desire to be an artist led him to leave home and leave school and head to Chicago where he changed his name to Roy Sim(m)s and began a career as a political cartoonist. At some point, Jack had a comic strip as well. The second attachment is a picture of Jack at this point of his life."

"I know little else of Jack’s time in Chicago, but at some point he moved to Greenwich Village where he met and married Ida Pilling, a transplanted Iowan who was a teacher in Leonia, New Jersey. Ida met Jack’s two major criteria for a mate, she was brilliant and she was as short as Jack was tall. Jack always felt that he was too tall and didn’t want his children to have that burden. The tall gene did bypass his girls, who are/were 5’7” but did go to our son who is 6’3”."

Bob concludes, "It was in New York that Jack did most of his work, producing the illustrations and advertising pictures for which he is best remembered."

And that's where I come in, adding these scans of some delightful Jack Welch advertising illustrations from my old magazine collection. I've arranged them so you can see how Welch's style matured during the 1940s...

... and into the early '50s. U.S. Keds was only one of his long-running advertising accounts.

It was during the 1950s that Welch produced the delightful Jello Animals series which was the subject of my first post on him back in 2007.

A final note from Bob: "[Jack] lived in Valhalla, a suburb north of NYC. He designed a color scheme for that village that included painting the commuter rail station pink."

Jack Welch died in 1985.

* My Jack Welch Flickr set.


  1. Anonymous8:50 PM

    I was best friends with Ruth Marie Welch for many years. Ida was my Brownie and Girl Scout leader. They lived at 80 Madison Ave. and I lived at 80 Jefferson Ave., one block away. I spent a lot of time with them.

  2. I am doing some research on Jack Welch and am delighted to have found this information. Please email me. I have questions!