Well-known Wyo designer and artist Jerry Palen dies at 78


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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Many people knew him as another breeder, others through his iconic characters Elmo and Flo in his syndicated comic “Stampede,” the most widely distributed cartoon in the United States and Canada.

Still others will remember Jerry Palen as the sculptor, artist and good general man who represented the cowboy way of life and the epitome of Wyoming.

Regardless of their knowledge, everyone contacted agreed that the loss of Palen at the age of 78 on November 25 left a crater-sized hole in the lives of her friends and fans.

Wyoming has lost a great

“Wyoming lost a big one,” Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, wrote on his Facebook page. “Always appreciated his enthusiasm for our state and its people.”

Driskill admitted he had tears in his eyes as he recounted memories of his friend.

“Jerry was just an absolute treat and a wonderful person,” he said. “He always put Wyoming first and loved the state and the people dearly.”

Driskill had known Palen for over 30 years. Among Driskill’s greatest treasures, he said, is one of Palen’s bronze horse and cowboy sculptures.

Palen was quite an artist and man, Driskill said.

“He’s one of those caring people who touches your life.”

The Official Illustrator of Wyoming Life

Rod Miller, historian and columnist for Cheyenne, agreed.

“He was the official illustrator of life in Wyoming,” Miller said. “He was an incredibly talented artist, a kind, intelligent and thoughtful man.

According to his obituary, Jerry and his family moved to the Wyoming Hereford Ranch in Cheyenne, Tennessee after World War II, where his father, Joseph, worked as a veterinarian on a ranch.

Jerry and his brother Gene attended Central High School, where Jerry graduated in 1961. Three years later, Jerry married his high school girlfriend, Ann Prosser, whom he had met in an art class.

The couple continued their education at the University of Wyoming, but took a break so Palen could study art with a well-known Western artist in Santa Barbara, California.

The couple will later return to Laramie, where Palen completed his studies in economics before moving back to California, where he worked as a controller in a lamp company before returning to Wyoming so that he could work as an examiner. banking for the state.

In 1973, according to his obituary, Jerry and Ann moved to Ann’s family ranch with their two sons, Eric and Brian, and little money in their pockets. From there, Palen embarked on a career as an illustrator, designer and artist.

Stampede cartoon

It was then that Palen launched the “Stampede” cartoon series featuring Elmo and Flo, husband and wife characters whose struggles in the ranching industry were a theme familiar to Palen’s neighbors and friends.

The series was eventually syndicated to publications in the United States and Canada.

The Palens later bought the Wyoming Hereford Ranch and set up a studio where Palen could produce his comic book and the remarkable bronze sculptures and monuments that can be found at the State Capitol at Cheyenne Municipal Airport. , the University of Wyoming, and the State Fairgrounds. as in private art collections.

Palen would go on to form his own publishing house with his partner Susannah Borg, which operated for the next 43 years until his retirement.

He touched a lot both in his life and in his art.

One of a kind

“Jerry was a one-of-a-kind American cowboy with a knack for art and humor,” said Bill Sniffin, longtime newspaper editor and current editor of the Cowboy State Daily. “He entertained people across the country with his insightful cartoons.”

Additionally, Sniffin said, Palen had an exceptional career in the fine art and was a true Wyoming gentleman.

“Hers don’t come often,” Sniffin said. “In Jerry’s case, we’re celebrating a real life in Wyoming, well lived.”

Send fresh horses

Bob Budd, executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust and former ranch manager, agreed.

Budd knew Palen’s father from his work with the Wyoming Stock Growers Association years before he met Jerry. The two eventually connected after an editor who bought Palen’s first book suggested Budd contact a guy named Jerry Palen in Wyoming who was a great illustrator.

The two teamed up on Budd’s book, “Send Fresh Horses,” which Jerry illustrated.

The book’s publication took them together on the road to various book signing sessions and events in many cities, including Las Vegas and Florida.

Budd laughed at their trip to Vegas together. Neither was really in the Vegas scene, and after walking around for a bit, they returned to the hotel room they shared to rest for their dedication the next morning.

However, only one of them went to bed that night.

Budd said he woke up at 2 a.m. to find Jerry hunched over a sketchbook, drawing. He suggested that maybe his friend should get some sleep. An hour later, Budd woke up and found Jerry.

Budd doubted his friend had slept more than a few minutes that night.

“Jerry did things to Jerry’s pace,” Bob said with a laugh. “He saw the world differently and that made him so unique and special. He’s a great guy and a great artist. Everything about Jerry was funny, and I will miss him.

I found joy in everything he did

Mary Meyer, who worked with Palen when she was responsible for community outreach at Cheyenne Memorial Hospital at the time, said Palen was very generous with her time to support the hospital.

Mentioning that he made shirts for the hospital with his cartoons on them, she said he “found joy in everything he did.”

“Jerry was a very nice man, always smiling, which made me wonder what he knew that I didn’t know,” Meyer said. “He was a pure gentleman who loved people very much and shared his talent.”

Meyer, the wife of the late Wyoming politician Joe Meyer, said that when her husband resigned as Wyoming attorney general, Palen created and framed a cartoon for him which was featured at a reception. public.

Appreciated by all

Others who have never met Palen, like Hulett-based breeder Dave Wolfskill, appreciated his talent and humor and his unique ability to capture real-life breeder experiences with both insight and humor.

“It was hilarious, realistic stuff,” Wolfskill said. “The ranchers could really relate to his business.”

Others took to social media to pay tribute to him, such as Kristen Teubner who described him as “a wonderful man and artist with a warm, kind soul and a smile” who will be sorely missed.

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