Published: January 9, 2007
(AP) — Bernie Webber, an internationally known watercolor painter whose public murals have been a ubiquitous presence throughout Everett for decades, has died of complications from an inoperable brain tumor at age 83.
Webber had been ailing from several strokes and the side effects of medication stemming from the tumor before his death December 24 at Providence Everett Medical Center, friends and relatives said told The Herald. His death also was confirmed on a Snohomish County website for Paine Field, where he made one of his murals.
He was named Artist of the Year in 2004 by the county’s Arts Council and his works include 33 portraits of Everett mayors that are on display in a downtown building that houses municipal offices, as well as historic theme murals on more than 50 public buildings, including schools, hospitals and the county courthouse.
One of his ten children, Rich Webber, said he was “the greatest graffitiist in Everett’s history.”
Webber grew up in Everett, the grandson of muralist J.C. Jensen and the nephew of Pacific Northwest painter Arne Jensen, both of whom he cited as influences.
He spent four years as a pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II, then worked briefly for the Weyerhaeuser Co. before going to study at the Los Angeles Art Center. He returned in 1951 and began refashioning his hometown’s artistic profile.
Known for a representational style and bright colors, he portrayed Puget Sound icons ranging from warships to streetcars, old homes and farmsteads to Husky Stadium, markets to mountains.
He found extensive work as a commercial artist, illustrating annual corporate reports and designing logos, and produced the covers for two books, one on the Everett School District by Larry O’Donnell, a friend and historian, and more recently “Snohomish County: An Illustrated History,” on which O’Donnell collaborated.
“In later years, he went from the commercial field to the fine arts field, and people commissioned him to paint scenes of the water and the mountains,” O’Donnell said. “He literally produced thousands of paintings. He liked to visit and paint.
“He once said that with ten kids, you learned to paint with a lot of noise going on.”
Over the years he donated paintings to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Rotary Club-related auctions and other projects, Mayor Ray Stephanson said.
“It’s a huge loss for our community,” Stephanson said. “Besides being a gifted artist, he’s an incredible human being and a community treasure.”
Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Joy; children, Elizabeth, Tom, John, Barb Bly, Richard, Patsy Chadwick and Katherine Hawthorne of Everett, Chris of Monroe, Greg of Marysville and Stephen of Republic; brother Raymond, of Bellevue; 17 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
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